For this Third Thursday guest post, I’m so happy to have Rachel Britton join us today at Follow His Footprints. She has a unique angle on prayer and exercise that fits right in with our view on wellness. Read her words below and see if this method can invigorate your prayer and fitness!
How many times have you thought, “I must find time to exercise today?” Then as you climb into bed at night, you realize you haven’t. For me, it’s been too many. Or, perhaps you have said “I really want to pray more often and more deeply,” but you don’t know how to begin. I’ve been there.
Finding time and being motivated to do the things we know are good for us is often a challenge.
I guarantee, from my own experience, the effort these pursuits take will be worthwhile for the health of your mind, body and soul.
Some years ago I did a Practice of Prayer course as part of my master’s degree, which turned my prayer life from a duty into a delight.
However, I struggled to find time for exercise and prayer. My three children kept me busy with their schoolwork and activities, while I juggled reading philosophy and theology books for my degree. The only way I could exercise and pray was to combine the two activities.
Soon, I discovered walking and praying were more than two separate elements, they worked together to boost my overall health.
Walking is good aerobic exercise and helps towards a healthy physical heart. But, did you know prayer could improve our physical heart health, too? Research shows prayer reduces stress and stress-related illnesses, like heart disease.
Prayer also improves the health of your spiritual heart, that which the Bible describes as the core of our being. When we pray from deep inside us, it is heart talk.
Heart talk often includes our emotions. In the story of Hannah in the Bible, Eli the priest thought she was drunk while praying. But scripture tells us Hannah was praying with her heart. Have you ever cried when you’ve prayed? Have you ever felt angry when you’ve come to prayer—not with God, but with a situation or another person? Don’t be afraid to bring these emotions into your prayers.
God wants us to share these deep feelings with him because, after all, he looks at the heart not at our outward appearance. It’s healthy to pour out our stresses in prayer because we are promised to have peace as a result. And feeling calm is better for our health than being wound up.
When we’re open with God in prayer, it gives God the opportunity to heal us on the inside so we can thrive on the outside.
Physical exercise also helps to calms our minds, bodies and souls. Often we return from a walk outdoors only to think, “I feel so much better.”
So, when we combine the physical and the spiritual—bingo. We’re onto a winner.
When we walk and pray we discover a wellness for our minds, bodies and souls because God has designed us to function as a whole.
I like to make time for my prayer walking, which I call my Prayer Zone Workout, first thing in the morning, before my day gets busy. My husband tells me I come back a different person.
During this next week, take up the challenge to find thirty minutes for five of the seven days to walk and pray and see the difference it makes to the state of your mind, your body, and your soul.
Rachel Britton is an author, blogger and speaker with a Masters degree in Religion from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Raised on the east coast of England, Rachel now lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children. She is passionate about helping women become healthier in their relationship with God, with others, and with themselves. Rachel is author of Prayer Zone Workout: Spiritual and Physical Exercise for the Heart, and its accompanying app. You can connect with Rachel at rachelbritton.com