“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast!
And when I run I feel his pleasure.” ~Eric Liddell
Christians have been slow to the game. For a group of folks who talk a lot about prayer, the statistics show they rarely practice it. When they do, it is primarily a “Hail Mary” kind of moment hoping the divine will get them out of their current jam or to meet a specific need that that lives in the land of illusivity.
Most other world religions connect prayer to some physical act be it breathing, yogic positions, stretching, or as the Hopi Indians do, running.
When you link some type of activity to prayer, you begin to focus better, notice your humanity more, and connect to God’s voice and inspiration in a fresh way.
If you know the story of Eric Liddell, he was the main character in the classic movie “Chariots of Fire” which centered around his gold medal Olympic race that almost wasn’t.
Liddell was known for and was to compete in the 200-meter race. However, that particular race was scheduled on a Sunday. Liddell experienced a crisis of faith when he found out. His strong conviction told him that he should go to church and worship God on that day. So, he declined to run the race he had prepared for.
Can you imagine that?
Training for an Olympic event and then declining to run because it interfered with his personal priority of going to church. In a time when people decline going to church because it is raining too hard, or it’s too hot or or or….I think you get my point. Liddell decided he would run the next race which was the 400-meter.
This wasn’t his normal race, nor what he trained for, but he decided to run it, and the rest is history as they say. He won the Gold Medal. After the race he said,
“The secret of my success over the 400-m is that I run the first 200-m as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200-m, with God’s help, I run faster.”
If you haven’t seen the movie put it on your list. The story is much bigger and beautiful than I can describe, but I have always been inspired Liddells’ famous quote in the movie:
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast!And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
I believe Liddell best connected with God while running. This discipline became a deeper prayer connecting his body, soul, and spirit to God.
I have many friends who are about to undertake a beautiful goal of running a full or half marathon to raise money for World Vision to bring clean water to areas where there is none.
A physical practice to achieve spiritual and physical goals. I believe God will meet them in a special way as they train. As they run they will notice how their focus sharpens. They will begin to hone in on the immediate moment whether it is because of fatigue, burn, or hard-breath. Their inner world will calm as they better unite with their outer reality. They will also have many “God I need you now” moments too!
With the right intention, their running will become for them a deeper spiritual experience, connecting them to God in a different way while making an impact for those who have no clean water. To me that is so good.
So for my marathon friends, here is a prayer I came across written by Lewis B. Smith Jr. he called his running prayer.
This is my running prayer Lord.
I run in praise of you.
I praise you with my motion.
You sustain my breath
That I may sustain your praise.
All creation joining in
Nothing in creation is still.
My world revolves as I run across it.
The heavens move as I run below them.
Everything moves in praise.
I move as I run.
I run a trail of blessings,
Giving and receiving both.
As I run I am blessed,
With moisture in the air
To cool my straining body,
Plants and trees nourish my breath,
That I may run further.
With birdsong to cheer me on.
Joining in unending praise
With the supportive murmur,
Of the flowing creek.
With passion in my arms and legs,
With burning in my chest,
That I may know that I am alive,
To have more to praise you for.
I leave blessings in my turn.
Water for plants,
Breath for trees.
This run may end.
The prayer will not.
I may slow.
I shall praise you still.
Your praise carries me.
To the limits of my body and beyond.
Hands outstretched in praise,
I run and collect bounteous blessings,
The rhythm of the pavement sings
A percussive song of power.
Not of my might.
Not of my strength.
But of the persistence of your spirit.
A regular rhythm of irregular melody
Breath in windy counterpoint
Still I run.
Still I praise
Ever the prayer runs on.
God gave us our bodies not only to live our mission through, but to experience His presence, purpose and power through.
When we integrate all of who we are we experience God in a whole new way. Let your body, created by God, help your spiritual journey and experience the kingdom of heaven that is within you and all around you.