In this paper, we propose a novel proactive routing protocol, referred to as potential management based proactive routing (PMPR), for mobile ad hoc networks. Unlike other proactive routing protocols, PMPR performs request based routing recovery for proactive route maintenance. When a node has lost the routing information, it attempts a local route recovery by broadcasting a request message to neighbor nodes within a limited hop range. If the local recovery succeeds, the routing information is reconstructed by the interaction between the requesting node and the neighbor nodes. In this paper, we introduce a concept of potential and propose an efficient management method of potential. Potential is a value assigned to each node for each destination. Routes are determined based on the potential of each node. When a node is requested to perform a route recovery and the recovery is feasible, the node modifies its potential to a lower value to provide the requestor a new route. A potential management method determines the success rate of the local route recovery and consequent route optimality. In our simulation with a moderate node density and high node mobility, over 95% of broken routes are recovered with 1 hop request. PMPR outperforms DSDV for all the simulated parameters. PMPR also outperforms AODV and DSR under a high node mobility and high traffic load condition. Under a low node mobility or low data rate condition, PMPR provides comparable performance to AODV and DSR.