Episode #24 Discovering Your Praying Personality. Janet McHenry

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Have you ever felt insecure or guilty about your prayer life? Today, Janet McHenry, author of Praying Personalities: Finding Your Natural Praying Style, frees us to connect more deeply to God’s heart as we discover a praying lifestyle that makes sense for us and the lives we lead. Janet offers biblical examples of pray-ers and explains how they responded to God in various times of their lives. In addition, Janet shares a powerful story of how she and her husband walked through an extended crisis involving a gross miscarriage of justice and how the Lord met them and glorified Himself through it all. Janet is the author of 26 books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. Also a certified personalities coach, she has helped others foster a hope-filled, purposeful lifestyle built on prayer and God’s Word.




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Today's Verses
  • Job 1:21
  • Matthew 27:46

Discovering your Praying Personality. JanetMcHenry

[00:00:00] Welcome to the Unshakable Hope Podcast, where real life intersects redeeming love. I’m Kelly Hall, and this is where we wrestle through faith questions, such as, How do I trust God’s heart when His ways and delays are breaking mine? How can I believe God is good when life doesn’t seem good? My prayer is that God would renew our hope in these conversations, and that each of us would experience the very real power of His presence and love.

Welcome. We are going to be hearing from Janet McHenry. She has written a book called Praying Personalities, Finding Your Natural Praying Style.

If you have ever felt insecure or even guilty about your prayer life, I can promise you, you’re going to walk away with a newfound sense of freedom today. Maybe you’ve wondered why your prayers sounded different from others. Maybe you were suffering from some prayer insecurity, or maybe you felt guilty because somebody says, Hey, you need [00:01:00] to spend an hour in a prayer closet, or you need to write all your prayers out in a journal,

I don’t know about you, but those things don’t work for me. They don’t work for my personality and they don’t work for a lot of people. So perhaps it’s time to step away from the “should” and discover a praying lifestyle that syncs with your God given personality.

Janet McHenry is the author of 26 books, including the best-selling Prayer Walk. And The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus, which is a book I’m currently enjoying as well. She’s also a certified personalities coach. She’s helped so many people go deeper into prayer and into God’s word. And she’s walked this journey herself.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the show notes because you’ll have an opportunity to take a praying personality quiz. So that’s just a cool gift. But the other thing that is just an extra special bonus today and a gift from [00:02:00] Janet, she agreed to share a story from her family, a time when she and her husband walked through an incredibly difficult, trying time. And she’ll share how God met them in that space, how he brought glory to himself, and what worked for her in reading God’s word and in prayer as she was walking through a deep personal crisis.

So Janet, welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad you’re here.​ Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and about your family?

Janet: Absolutely. I live in the northern Sierra in the Sierra Valley, which is about an hour north of Lake Tahoe in California, and it’s the largest Alpine Valley in North America.

It’s a beautiful agricultural valley, and my husband is a cattle rancher here, and I formally taught high school English, and we also raised our 4 children here, 2 boys, 2 girls who are all adults and off in the [00:03:00] world post college. Working away successfully. Yay. They blessed us with a bunch of grandchildren.

And so it’s delightful to be here with you, Kelly. Thank you for having me.

Kelly: Thank you so much. Now that’s a big praise when our kids can find jobs. Hallelujah. And the grandkids blessing. I celebrate that with you. Well, I found this book that we’re talking about today so unique and fascinating. Your book is praying personalities and it’s finding your natural praying style.

I found so much freedom in this book as you described how different people are wired to connect with God’s heart. We talked so much about prayer on this podcast, we help people navigate their sorrow and connect to God’s heart in deep, authentic ways. You’ve written so many, 8 books on prayer, and I just wanted to hear your insights and thoughts. So let’s start by just talking about how can [00:04:00] discovering our praying personality free us to connect more deeply and easily to God’s heart?

And how did you even stumble upon this whole idea?

Janet: Right. Well, part of it, I think I was part of the problem of all of this because about 25 years ago, I began prayer walking. It was a spiritual exercise that I decided to do after I was, suffering physically in certain ways. So I thought I need to get out and walk.

And I thought I can, sort of take care of prayer, as I’m walking along. And then one day I was walking past our little daycare center and I watched a young father hand over his blanketed little girl to the daycare worker on the sidewalk and it was dark out. It wasn’t even six o’clock in the morning yet.

And this little girl said, bye daddy, I love you. And something clicked within me at that point where I began to understand that God had me out on the streets in my community, less for the mind of my prayers, but more for the needs [00:05:00] of others. So I began opening up my eyes praying for commuters heading into Reno to work for the loggers heading out into the woods, mill workers going to the mill, the school bus drivers heading down the road.

And it really, it began to be kind of a dynamic spiritual exercise for me so much so that I just tried to convert everyone to prayer walking. So every time I spoke and I spoke about prayer in some way I would say, just  give it a try. But there would be some lady who would come up to me afterwards and say, but Janet, I can’t walk. So what should I do?

So those words always kind of resonated within me, and I thought, perhaps there are different kinds of praying styles, and perhaps it doesn’t really matter how we approach God, the method that we use, the words that we use, all of that perhaps this is based on our personality, [00:06:00] our God given personality, that there is going to be a natural praying style for each of us.

And that’s just kind of what I discovered in the Bible. There are all kinds of ways that people appeal to God. So that’s how it kind of began.

Kelly: Well, I love that. Reading this book really helped me understand why my husband and I pray so differently. We’ve been praying together for 39 years, and he always has to pray on the go while he’s moving, and throughout the day he processes with the Lord, but me, I have to sit and pray and not listen to music and not be moving because that’s how I’m able to focus on what’s going on within me, what’s going on with the Lord.

And that’s how I hear from him. I hear from him when I’m sitting in a chair, not when I’m walking throughout my day for the most part. And so I just love the freedom that it gives people to let go of all the woulda, shoulda, couldas, and the comparisons and just say, Hey, God wired you. And he knows how to [00:07:00] speak to you in a way you can hear him.

So I’d really love for you to talk to us about some of these different personalities that you describe in your book.

Janet: Absolutely. As I began examining the, the different ways that people prayed in the Bible they sort of fell into four different categories and perhaps one of the, one or more of these will resonate with you.

For example, there are those kinds of praying people I called cerebral pray-ers, those people who like Adam, they question God, or Job, the thinker: he had a kind of a thinking posture. He simply wanted to understand his pain, understand the suffering, questioning, just trying to think through argumentatively the why’s behind what he was going through.

Or perhaps also someone like Moses, who dialogued with God for two chapters, trying to talk God out of sending him to lead the people [00:08:00] out of captivity in Egypt. He’s a, who am I? And, but I, but I can’t talk and what are the people going to say? And, basically bottom line, his last statement to the Lord was, I basically don’t want to do it, but God, God still listened to him. He answered him in his questioning kind of posture.

And then we also have emotive kinds of praying people in the Bible such as Hannah who cried out of her misery of not being able to have a child But then turns around and and then rejoices and there’s this beautiful song that she sings as a result of God blessing her and then David, you know the poet and half of the Psalms, half of the hundred fifty Psalms, are written or attributed to David in some way Many of those are laments, expressing deep, deep emotions that not only he could have, but we could resonate with as [00:09:00] well.

And then Jeremiah, the lamenter, the, the sad sack kind of guy he wrote the book of lamentations. Hello. And God hears those kind of praise prayers as well. But then there are also like devotional kinds of praying people in the Bible. Abraham was called God’s friend. Deborah had a thankful kind of posture.

Josiah was inspired by God’s word and he allowed that to bring about change in his life and to inspire prayer. With him and his people. And then you’ll also notice probably if there are some people who prayed in very physical kinds of ways.

I mean, I have a friend who will always say, well, Janet, just turn some worship music on and dance. And I’m like, I’m not that kind of person, right? But Jacob, he wrestled with God and Joshua, his form of prayer style was simply obedience. God asked him to do something and he did it.[00:10:00] So his response, his prayerful response is actually obedience. It’s physical in nature.

And then we have all of the the fasting people in the Bible as well, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel, and so forth. So, it was really interesting to me to be able to, to look at those different people and see how they communicated, how they stayed in touch with God and how they express themselves with the Lord.

Kelly: Yeah. I just thought it was really interesting. I could definitely relate with Moses, the dialoguer and with Hezekiah, who was the problem solver and much more of an emotive prayer for sure than compared to my fighter pilot husband. So it was really fun to say, Oh, so that’s why, this is why I pray this way. This is my personality. I’m wondering too, if you could, I’m just curious, where do you find yourself in all of this? What is your praying personality?

Janet: Well, later in the [00:11:00] book, I offer a quiz, a praying personalities quiz that people can take to help them, find their natural prayer style. And I create 4 different praying styles and one of those is called the problem solver and I really resonate with that. I, if someone asks me to pray, I just drop right then, cause I see prayer as a natural problem solving strategy that is so important for us to grasp onto in our Christian growth.

So that is, it’s just a natural thing for me, but I’m not going to be, I’m not someone who necessarily prays emotionally, although I can be. I can go to that point, but that’s not a natural thing. I’m not going to dance. I’m not going to shout and raise my hands. That’s not who I am. And I’m not also someone who is going to journal all her prayers out.

I’m not someone who’s going to keep an organized [00:12:00] notebook and have different ways to pray each day of the week. And these, these were all prayer strategies that others, earlier in my Christian walk, said, Hey, Janet, you should have a prayer closet, go there every day. I’m like, okay.

I don’t really have a closet I can empty. They’re all stuffed. And then others would say, Janet, you should write, write out your prayers, because it works for me. Well, that works for my friend and she does, I know she does that. Or people would say, well, Janet, you, should have this organized notebook.

I went to this one workshop and of course for 24.99 I bought the notebook and then I could pray a different way every single day of the week and night. And I understand that that works for those who perhaps have their detail oriented, their accountant kinds of people, they like systems for everything.

But for me, when I, I hear of a prayer need, I pray right then. That it’s just kind of an instant [00:13:00] instantaneous kind of reaction. So, prayer walking works for me. I don’t pray while I exercise necessarily, but I’ll find that he’s even as I’m going through the house and cleaning the cleaning rooms and so forth that will inspire me to pray for, for those people that I identify with those rooms.

And it helps me to have reminders for prayer around. I keep sticky notes in my calendar, my business calendar so that I can keep track of those when someone I know that someone has a sincere need and really needs me to pray on a regular basis, but have a notebook or journal my prayers. No, I don’t, cause I’m, I just know that I’m not going to be able to keep that up.

Kelly: Right. One, one thing I’ve noticed is that the way I pray when I’m in crisis, when I’m praying for a crisis is really different than that way I pray on a normal day. So when , I, and so then I really resonated with the [00:14:00] problem solver people in your book, the Elijah and the Hezekiahs, because I will just run to those places and in the Bible, where people in crisis prayed, and I will place my crisis right over that prayer, and I will pray through their template. And that helps me because it just infuses the power and authority of God’s word right into that space. And that brings Peace.

I’m a very creative person. And so following the same exact routine every day, that doesn’t work for me either. I need to connect in a fresh way every day with God and his word.

Janet: I totally understand that. And I know that each of us, It’s never, my intention to try to put people into boxes and even personality kinds of assessments that people have used.

You often find that, well, you’re mostly This kind of a person, but there’s also this other secondary kind of a personality, series of traits that might make sense to you. So, [00:15:00] that’s why I offer hundreds, there are hundreds and hundreds of different ways I call prayer pointers in the book that people can pray.

And even if, even if that becomes like a cherry picking kind of an exercise like, Oh, I like that idea. I like that idea. Even if it doesn’t necessarily fit into a certain kind of a praying personality, hopefully it will help someone.

Kelly: Yeah. That’s why I’m so glad you brought that up because yes, there are hundreds of praying tips at the end of each chapter, the end of each section.

I just thought that was really very helpful just to open up our mind to the creativity of God. God knows how to connect to millions and billions of people in a way that they can hear him and you offer so much creativity in this book that I found really fun and inspiring. One of the other things that you talked about were, you mentioned just times of sorrow and disappointment when our deepest heartfelt prayers go unanswered.[00:16:00] And so I’m just curious if you have any thoughts on how different praying personalities process sorrow.

Janet: Well, the problem solver will process intellectually. They’ll, want answers. So actually going to God’s word, immersing yourself in God’s word, as a point of inspiration or understanding that could be good for them. But the those who are what I call the friend of God, those are more kind of emotionally wired.

They’re, gonna lament. They’re just, they may need to write out those prayers, or they need to put on the worship music. They need that kind of an outlet to be able to express how they feel to the Lord or to allow that music to turn things around for them and to give them inspiration and hope to move on.

Those who are what I call the organized prayer or the lamenter will want to have ways that they can keep [00:17:00] track of God’s goodness in their lives. So for that person who is experiencing great sorrow, it might be helpful to have a journal, a gratitude kind of journal where they’re writing out the blessings that they have, despite the situation that may be in.

So those kinds of things can help lift them up. And then the peace seeker, that, that kind of person there, that what they need in their lives is peace, they, so when, when struggles occur, when they are going through particular trials, they will naturally turn to prayer because there is going to be no other way that they’re going to, find that peace in their lives.

So, and they’re going to, it will be informal for them and they may just sit. They may just sit and wait for God to answer them, to speak to them in some kind of way. They may find that others prayers that have been written, prayer books [00:18:00] can inspire kind of that sense of peace for them and allow those others words, to actually be their own voice to the Lord.

So there are different ways that we can, each process is praying people.

Kelly: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Your books are very inspirational. They are showing us how we can connect to God’s heart in many different ways. You present God’s heart along the way, and I love that so much.

I heard you tell a story one time about a really difficult thing that you and your family walked through. The reason it resonated with me is because it had to do with injustice. And that is a place where I have been in crisis before. I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing that,,

Janet: happy to share if it encourages other people to have hope and to turn to the Lord, faithfully Because he is the problem solver So I [00:19:00] mentioned earlier that my husband is a cattle rancher He raises Angus beef cattle here in the High Sierra and when you raise livestock You know that you are going to have dead stock as well It’s just a natural part of the cycle of life Particularly when we live in an area that can get significant snows, if we had 56 feet of snow on the high parts of the Sierra this year.

So imagine when you’re, you’re raising cattle, and it was actually in late 2001, when we had a two day blizzard here in the Sierra and unbeknownst to my husband, he had six calves that bedded down with an old bull in a dry Creek bed and the snow covered over those animals and they died. It was something it was because it was in a remote area and it was just not an area that he wouldn’t normally have have checked for [00:20:00] for cattle.

He didn’t know about them and but a grouchy neighbor called animal control when he saw when the snows melted and he saw that there was the, these animals there. So animal control came out and eventually what happened was that Greg was charged with seven animal. cruelty felonies. So it wasn’t a little lawsuit.

This was a criminal case where my husband was charged with animal abuse. And the case went to trial. It took about four years almost for it to get to trial. It was even, charges were dropped at one point and another, then a new DA picked it up and refiled the charges. And so we thought it was just simply a matter of something to live through because Craig had had exceptional rates on his cattle at auction.

We, the two necropsies on the animals that they necropsy [00:21:00] showed that one had 20 pounds of feed in its stomach and the other had a high level of colostrum. In other words, they were well fed. It wasn’t neglect. It was simply a blizzard and kind of a sad situation. So these kinds of things, we had all the evidence.

We had two large animal vets, one which is probably the the most well known large animal veterinarian in the Reno, Nevada area, which is near us, and another large animal vet. They, he, they testified that that the, that the animals have been well cared for, et cetera. So it was something we just thought we were going to live through, but the judge would not allow those auction records to be admitted.

He harassed all of the defense witnesses, even me. He said I was that I was, going on and on and rambling, insulted me right in front of the jury. He called me a Virginia wolf. He said, what did you, who do you think you are? Virginia wolf that you go on and on like this. And so, she was a literary figure.

[00:22:00] He knew I knew he was insulting me or attempting to, and and then , the biggest problem was that he would not allow the chief witness to testify and he was a , the chief, beef. Veterinary professor from UC Davis veterinary school, who was, he had never testified ever at a trial before.

So he wasn’t one of those kind of specialized kind of people, who make a lot of bucks testifying at trials. But he knew that this, this was an injustice. Well, he was not allowed to testify. And so, and Craig ended up being convicted of 6 felonies, and of course we had been praying all the way through.

We just felt like God was going to come through no matter, things weren’t going well. It was a two week trial. Things weren’t going well, but God was faithful and he’ll take care of us. And then this conviction comes, we’re in the, we’re in the courtroom. And so the. And it was super hard because [00:23:00] the the chief jury men was the son of a woman I per walked with.

Someone else on the jury was the business manager for the school district I worked for. I’ve worked with her many times. We were friends, and on and on. And so it was a complete shock to us. Yeah, 2 months later, we had the sentencing. He could have gotten 3 years in state penitentiary, but was given 4 years of probation and a very large fine.

So he was allowed to keep his cattle, which is ironic if you think about it, because if he was abusing animals, he shouldn’t have been now allowed to keep his his cattle. Right. Right. Just so many weird things. And we kept saying, why, why, why God? And I’m at that time. God’s word for me was like a gray mass.

I just I couldn’t get anything out of it I’d look open it up and it wouldn’t speak to me but the one book that did speak to me was [00:24:00] a devotional book written by LB Cowman called Streams in the desert and I read in two months time I read all the way through that 365 day devotional book and underlined everything, and I allowed that to be our prayers, our consolation, as we were driving our to the courthouse up in the mountains here in the Sierra 2 months after the conviction.

So, he was given the sentence and then afterwards, Craig’s friends, we had filled the courtroom with friends, cattle people, six pastors, and all of Craig’s friends surrounded him and out in the driveway outside the courthouse. And all my friends were around me. And one friend said to me, Janet, just look at your husband.

She goes, he’s changed. God has changed him. He is shining. He’s, he’s demonstrating the peace of God in his life. And I looked [00:25:00] over at him and I thought, Oh my gosh, he has, I was a mess, but he was really, truly demonstrating faith in God, despite the situation that we had had gone through. And I realized, Oh God, this is the answer to 10, 15 years of prayers for our marriage. You have changed my husband. I love this man. And so that was the bigger picture and the bigger reason behind our having to go through that. But I will also share with your listeners and your viewers that two years later, the conviction was overturned at the California court of appeals.

We handled the appellate case ourselves. We found 252 some reasons, and, but the chief decision was based on the fact that the judge would not allow that chief witness to testify. , [00:26:00] and the appellate judges were able to read a two page letter that went into the probation report about what that professor actually would, he wrote that letter himself and submitted that to the probation officer. So they said, if this testimony had been allowed, this would never have happened. So it was overturned there. It’s, very difficult to live with that kind of injustice. We lived with it for nearly over 5 years and it’s still hurts.

It still hurts.

Kelly: Yeah. Because you felt betrayed by the, your friends who were on the jury. , I hear your story and it’s so hard. It’s just so full of injustice. And then even when it’s resolved, the judge didn’t come to you and say, oh, I’m so sorry. And then all the jurors come and say, we were so wrong here. Let us, what can we do to make this up to you?

You still don’t have that resolution, but I love that about your husband, how God [00:27:00] transformed him through that. And also the streams in the desert highly recommend that devotional to people all the way through she is just talking about suffering and surrendering to the Lord and seeing with God’s eyes instead of our own.

Janet: It’s a, magnificent work for anyone going through struggles. I had tried to read that devotional book many times before, and it just didn’t resonate with me at the time. But every word spoke to us and encouraged us and gave us hope. And I think ultimately it was a reflection, on Job’s words that truly helped us from that devotional where Job says, the Lord gives. The Lord takes away blessed be the name of the Lord.

Our systems are imperfect . Man does not bring about justice, on the earth here, but ultimately we can truly trust no matter what kind of, how we approach God in prayer, whether that’s going to be like, if we’re praying through [00:28:00] God’s word or we’re, we’re lamenting or we’re dancing. In our sorrows or however we might express ourselves that we, know that God has the bigger picture in mind. He had a bigger picture with Job. He had a bigger picture in mind with us as well. And I know this, these are, syrupy words to someone perhaps going through cancer or who has lost a loved one.

And there are so many why’s, but another thing that we can also turn to is the fact that Jesus second prayer on the cross is my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Even Jesus had those “Why” prayers. And so we can, we can identify with him, he identifies and he comforts us in the sorrows and those injustices of life that we have.

So we can always go to him in prayer.

Kelly: Amen. I [00:29:00] love too that you said that during the biggest part of this crisis, you would open your Bible and it just looked like gray mush. You just couldn’t read. You couldn’t comprehend. And so many people can relate to being in a crisis where that’s the case. So I appreciate you just sharing that about yourself.

I’m very thankful you didn’t mind sharing that story with us, Janet. And I love your books on prayer. I am particularly fascinated by this book, on praying personalities. Thank you for putting in the work for saying yes to the Lord,

So how can people connect with you? Tell us about what you have to offer on your website.

Janet: People can find me about anywhere on social media first, but my my website is JanetMcHenry. com and if people want to go there, they can learn more about monthly mini magazine that I offer free.

It’s called Looking Up. It always has [00:30:00] some sort of Teaching on prayer, but also some fun stuff like recipes and travel suggestions and things like that that you might find in any kind of women’s magazine. If people sign up for that, they will get my, a book called prayer helps scripture based prayers when you don’t know how to pray.

So if you’re in that place like where I was, where I wasn’t sure how to pray, but maybe you these prayers can help you kind of, look to scripture and be inspired by that. So they can get that for free.

Kelly: And your book, Praying Personalities, is available now,

for pre order. It will be released in February. I also wanted to mention that your book is that it had discussion questions at the end of each chapter. So, it would be a fun thing to go through with a small group of people.

I will put the links to your website and to the book in my show notes. Janet, thank you so much for sharing your time with me today. I appreciate it.

Janet: [00:31:00] Thank you, Kelly. It’s been a privilege.

Thanks for listening to the Unshakable Hope Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe and leave a review. To continue the conversation and for free resources, be sure to visit me at kellyhall. org. Thanks so much.

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