Prayer and Exercise; Two of life’s daunting, yet exhilarating tasks
One day about 7 weeks ago, I started to run. Not Forest Gump running, but more like a turtle on a sugar high. I ran one block and then was out of breath. I walked the rest of the 3 miles. But then I did it again the next day, and the next and so on. I ended up walking/jogging for 3 miles, 6 days a week. I was going steady. I was going strong. I felt good. Some days were better than others. But overall the exercise was CHANGING MY LIFE.
You think I’m being extreme? Because I’m not. I felt better, I slept better, I ate better, I think I even gained insight into humanity…anyway. This was all going strong until this past week when, due to traveling (and laziness from the day after traveling) I missed my walk/run 2 DAYS IN A ROW.
Getting out for a run today was like trying to get a mule to go to a tea party. (note the political reference there, haha). Anyway, it was tough. But I finally got my lazy feet out of bed and hit the road.
Which brings me to this post. As I was forcing one foot in front of the other I though, ‘Isn’t exercise a lot like prayer? Or prayer a lot like exercise?’ Once you get into the habit of it, it’s easy (or somewhat easy), but if you miss one day, and then two…well it can be a downhill snowball. Right? Think about it. Why is it so difficult for us to pray? To take the time to be with our Lord? In reality, it will be the most important thing we do that day. I know for me, when I get up every morning to pray, it becomes, well, a habit. But if I miss a day, or dare say two, the next morning will take more effort and sometimes it doesn’t happen. Oh I’ll do it later, this afternoon or tonight. Sounds familiar? The ironic thing is that I KNOW I will feel better after I do it, just like exercising. So how do we make this more than a habit, but a way of life? Here are a few tips coming from one that needs to hear them herself:
- Ask for the grace. “Lord, help me to pray, help me to put you first in my life.”
- Ask for the desire. “Lord, help me to desire you more and to desire to spend more time in prayer with you.”
- Set up a specific time. I have found it is best for me to pray in the morning. I set aside at least the first 15 minutes of the day for some quiet time. Some people like doing this at night before bed, but I find myself too sleepy. Plus, in the morning, you start the day in the right direction.
- Set up a specific location. You may choose your church, a bench outside your house, your rocking chair. Wherever it is, choose a specific place that can be your prayer haven. If you are able, it is better to choose a place that is solely your prayer space, for instance not the couch where you tend to watch the Packer’s on TV. Create a space for prayer.
- Find a spiritual director or someone that can hold you accountable.
- Ask for God’s help to get you moving!
- Ask for the desire to exercise and stay healthy.
- See 3. above.
- See 4. above. I run the same path everyday. Sometimes people ask me if it gets boring. It really doesn’t. It’s a very pretty path and I’ve found that when I try to change it up (go somewhere else), I get out of my habit and fall out of the groove.
- Find someone to exercise with you or at least to hold you accountable! You can even sign up for a 5k, that will really get your feet moving!
Let’s make prayer a habit. Let’s give God our all. He deserves it and frankly so do we.
Then I thought about mixing prayer and exercise together. Now THAT would be daunting.
Article to come: rosaries while running!