I know what you want. Its what I want too. To be healthy, happy and full of energy and joy. We try to eat healthy meals to nourish our bodies, we exercise to stay strong and we read books to engage our minds. Most of us try our best daily to tend to our body and mind.
But have you given any thought to our spirit?
This part of us often times gets neglected when we plan out our path to peak fitness. Yet, it is such a vital part of our overall health. After all, there is no limit to what one can achieve with a healthy body, a strong mind and a powerful spirit! You can move mountains!
As we start a new year, this is the perfect time to reinvigorate your spirit and flex your soul muscles.
Some of us formulate plans to lose weight in this year or to complete a marathon. We vow that this is the year we will fit into those skinny jeans or maybe start working towards that dream you’ve had in your heart for a long time.
Whatever your plans might be for the year, let us also not forget to make plans for our spiritual growth as well. Perhaps you are already where you want to be on your spiritual journey (kudos to you!) but more likely than not, you are like me, and everyday is a learning, growing walk towards a deeper relationship with God.
If you’re a complete beginner or have gone a while without speaking to God or given Him much of your time, well you are in for a treat! Why? Because just like the father rejoiced in Luke 15:11-32 when his son returned after years of poor choices and wandering, just so your Father in heaven rejoices because you have decided to grow closer to Him.
Get ready to be awed by His power and find peace in your life.
Getting Ready – Create a habit of prayer
As an avid runner, I see so many similarities between prayer and exercise. I want to share with you how you can develop your own prayer program that will boost your spiritual growth.
Whether you have tried to get a prayer routine going in the past and failed, or you just want to revitalize your prayer life now, this will be a huge help to you.
Like any new exercise program, you will get out of this new habit what you put into it. The good news is that it this does not have to be hard, overwhelming or burdensome and the benefits are immense beyond belief.
And I am here to help you every step of the way. I have put together the first few steps you need to get yourself spiritually fit and grow a deeper relationship with God.
I have create a helpful worksheet that you can print and get started right away. Included in the spreadsheet is a calendar for you to check off each day that you spend time praying. It might sound silly but stick with me here. I want you to focus on the calendar and checklist, rather than the action of praying. In other words, I want you to spend time praying so you feel the satisfaction of putting a check mark on the calendar.
Print out the calendar and tape it next to your bed. At the end of 30 days, you will look over on the calendar and see all those check marks. What a huge feeling of accomplishment that will bring to you!
A Few Things First
Before we get started let’s get a few things out of the way first.
Firstly, these tips are in no way an end-all, be-all of how to get closer to God. Thankfully, there is not only one way to be in relationship with our Father.
Secondly, like the formation of any habit, be patient with yourself. Set a goal and take small steps each day to reach that big goal. Small changes can make a huge difference!
Lastly, I encourage you to find a partner, if you can, to take this journey with you. Join a prayer group at church or invite a friend to coffee once a week to talk about how you are doing. This will go a long way in helping you stay on track and keep you motived.
Now let’s get into it. Here are the first 3 crucial steps you should take to start your spiritual fitness journey.
Step 1: Find your why
I am so happy that you are interested in starting or deepening your relationship with Jesus. I hope that in the weeks ahead you will be experience His peace-giving spirit and overwhelming power in your life.
I’ll be honest and say that while you might be gung-ho at the beginning of this new experience, there will come a day when you don’t feel like praying. This is perfectly natural. We’ve all gone through days like this. Hence, its very important to find your WHY. Here are few question to consider:
- Why do I want to pursue a deeper relationship with God?
- What do I hope to gain from this experience?
- How will I measure my success?
- What have kept me away in the past?
By answering these questions, you will have the foundation you need to motivate you on those days when you just want to spend time on Facebook or watching your favorite TV show rather than praying. It will remind you of why you started this journey in the first place.
Step 2: Create a plan
If you wanted to start training for a marathon, you will most likely hop on Google and find an exercise plan to follow. Likewise, its vital to have a plan when you are preparing to get your spirit in shape.
You should decide the following:
- What time of the day will I pray?
- For how long will I pray?
- What type of prayer will I be doing?
While you might initially be overly ambitious and make a goal of praying for 30 minutes or an hour everyday, I would caution against putting too much pressure on yourself. God sees you and knows your heart and He sees your desires to grow closer to Him. You do not have to pretend with Him; He already knows what you need even before you ask it.
Instead, I would suggest that you strive for 5 -10 minutes a day. If you go longer, that’s wonderful.
I find the best time for me to pray is early in the morning, before my family wakes up. I enjoy the quiet when I can hear my own thoughts and hopefully feel God’s spirit stirring inside me.
Step 3: Get your gear
Let’s prepare for success. I truly want you to be successful in this new venture of growing closer to God. So what do you need for the sport of prayer? Thankfully, you do not need an expensive gym membership, or purchase any equipment to start your training program. You can do this without your Apple watch or any other gadget. This is a budget-friendly exercise prayer plan! You don’t even have to leave your home to reap the benefits.
All you need to get started is YOU! The only thing you have to do is getting your mind and your heart in a space that is ready to show true honor and glory to Jesus.
Come to Jesus with a sincere heart. Ask forgiveness for all the wrongs you might have done and pray for His mercy and forgiveness. Give Him your heart and surrender your life to Him. Ask God to help you as you start to pray more that you may feel His Spirit around and within you.
If you are so inclined though, and as your faith grows it would be great to have a Bible and journal to accompany the printables I have created for you to keep the momentum going.
So after we put in the work, how do we measure success? Well, you probably won’t have a six-pack, a flat tummy or slimmer legs on this fitness program but one thing you will most likely have is a completely different outlook and mindset. Undoubtedly, measuring spiritual success is such a personal questions and my definition of success will be very different from yours.
Maybe after days of consistently praying, you find that you are a little happier. Is that success for you?
Perhaps you will find that you are more patient with your spouse and children. Or that you view your job differently now that you are forming a relationship with Christ. Your circumstance might not be as impossible and hopeless as you thought before.
For my own personal experiences, here are 5 incredible things that happen when I started praying:
- I found my joy: Since I have made prayer a priority in my life, I have such a joy in my heart. I smile more, am more forgiving of others, and myself and try to see myself the way God sees me. I greet each day with joyful expectation that God will do something amazing in my life.
- I am mindful of my words and actions: Just like you watch what you eat when you’re on a fitness plan, just so you watch what you read, watch, say and listen to when you are on your spiritual fitness journey. I find that as I pray more, I have stopped watching certain shows on TV, and try to use words that are uplifting instead of defeating. I am definitely not perfect, but I try to make my words and actions pleasing to God.
- I am a better wife and mother: I know that God is with me in my mothering and my role as a wife so I do not have to always worry when my children are not acting the way I know they should. God is in the business of changing hearts and He will guide them to Him.
- I celebrate other’s blessings: I use to be envious of other people’s success but since I’ve grown closer to God, I know that He has abundant blessings. So I am happy for others successes because there is enough of God’s goodness for all of us. I know that as my faith grows God will do amazing things in my life as well.
- I am able to take criticism: I was the girl who crumbled whenever someone said something unkind or called out my faults. It would crush me and I would become defensive and angry. These days, while I still do not like to be criticized (does anyone?) I view feedback now as a way for me to become a better version of myself. I truly believe that God talks to us through others so I think that when others are giving me feedback -even when I don’t ask for it – that maybe it is God’s spirit leading them to speak to me.
Are you ready?
Let’s Get Spiritual, Spiritual,
I wanna get spiritual.
Let’s get the spiritual
I’m gonna start today (sing it with me)
I truly believe that God is calling you to dedicate sometime to spend with Him starting today. He stands ready to listen to your prayers, to guide you and to give you the joy and peace you seek. Including prayer into your daily life does not have to be a chore and when you do it regularly, it becomes an activity you WANT to do instead of something you HAVE to do.
Starting today, I encourage you to change the way you view prayer and think of it as a way of strengthening your spirit, which is such a crucial part of you, even though you do no see it. I believe that we are all spiritual beings living in a human body so we should nourish our spirit as well as our body and mind.
When you look back at where you were this time next year, my prayer is that with this little exercise you will be able to shout from the mountain tops that you indeed are a CHILD OF GOD.