There’s a park nearby that features a trail which provides a great route for runners in that it’s a little less than a mile and winds through trees and some picturesque scenery. It also has a little bit of a hill at one point, so it can be challenging depending on how much you want to “push” it.
Generally, I’ll try to run around it at least three times. That way, I will have gone three miles and worked up a decent sweat.
Most of the time when I run, it will be a day where I’ve resolved to give my muscles a break from the normal LCF routine and my pace will be somewhat relaxed, at least for one lap.
By relaxed, I mean that if I were to be running along with someone, we would be able to have a conversation without a lot of huffing and puffing. That being the case, praying is often an activity I’ll engage in when I’m running on this trail.
Earlier this week, I started running / praying and I determined that for one lap, I was going to put my “list” aside and instead do nothing but thank God.
My list can be pretty extensive and, depending on how things are going with my family and my business, rather than a quality conversation, it will be a one sided wall of requests that will crowd out anything that I might otherwise say to God or hear from Him.
So I thanked Him for everything I could think of. And by that I mean, I wasn’t engaging in some trite little exercise where I’m trying to sound gracious and reaching for things that required very little thought. As I was running, I…
- noticed the sky and the scenery – Romans 1:20
- reflected on the fact that I could run at all. My hip surgery is rarely overlooked when I’m exercising in that there was a time in the not too distant past where walking for any length of time was a challenge. Not I’m doing Burpees! – James 5:13-16
- rehearsed the fact that my perspective is radically different because of the Spirit of Christ breathing life into what othewise would be a spiritual corpse – Ezekiel 36:26; Romans 8:5-8; 1 Corinthians 2:12
- thanked God for my bride and my kids – Psalm 127:3-5; Prov 31:10-31
- thanked Him for my country – Psalm 33:12
- thanked Him for my business – Deuteronomy 8:18
…and there was more, but those represented the highlights.
Here’s the thing, though: Being more intentional about thanking God before I launched into my list of appeals and grievances set the tone for a far more healthy and productive conversation with my God than what would’ve been the case had I simply started off with “what I want.”
So, I think I’m going to try and do that more consistently in the future. Before I start my marathon of requests or my sprints of activity, I’m going to warm up with a lap of gratitude and maybe throw in some well-deserved compliments. It seems like that’s how you’re supposed to pray anyway (Matthew 6:9-10; 1 Thess 5:16-18).
I think I’m going to go take a lap right now…