Getting skunked means to be overwhelmingly defeated in a competition, such as “We got skunked, 72-10 in the basketball game.” 

            And then there’s the literal meaning.

            I had been prayerwalking for many years in my small town in the Sierra Valley that cold morning I headed out my front door and down Main Street—bundled up in gloves, coat, and hat that pre-dawn morning. I had forgotten my flashlight but wasn’t concerned when two doors down I heard rustling in the bushes to my right.

            Just birds.

            But soon I learned the rustling was not birds, but a skunk defending itself from an intrepid prayerwalker. My first clue was the back side of a raised white tail. My second clue came a moment later: an acrid, rotten egg odor surrounding me. 

            But I was still hopeful. Maybe it missed me. The skunk had quickly scooted behind the bushes.

            Undeterred, I continued down the street, praying for folks in homes and owners of the small businesses. The Hardware. White’s Sierra Service. Leonard’s grocery store. The Golden West Restaurant. 

            But after that quick half-mile walk from my western end of town to the eastern side, I pretty much could not stand myself any longer and did a quick jog home and straight to the washing machine. Three washes and a box of baking soda later, my clothes and shoes finally smelled fresh again. 

            That’s just one episode from my twenty-three years of prayerwalking—a spiritual exercise God led me to that turned into a ministry of praying for my town and its people. And despite some crazy animal antics along my path (raccoon, mountain lion, rattlesnake, and more!), I will continue to pray God blesses the people in my community and one-by-one transforms us all from the inside out. 

Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling book PrayerWalk (WaterBrook) and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus (Bethany House). The coordinator of the prayer ministries at The Bridge Church in Reno, she is also Sierra County coordinator for the National Day of Prayer. A writing coach, she hosts the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat several times in her home and may be reached through her website, https://www.janetmchenry.com.

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