A Runners’ Prayer

“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.

The one about “splagchnizomai”

The word that best describes the motivation of Jesus and the heart of God is splagchnizomai.” The Greek word is translated as compassion, or love and compassion, but it is more powerful than that. This type of compassion is an invitation into being more human while experiencing more of the divine. This episode will change the way you think God thinks about you!

World Water Day & Planet Changer!

Today is world water day. The theme for this year is:

“World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.”

Creating sustainable, eco-solutions to providing communities in rural areas with fresh water is what we do at Planet Changer!

If you would like to make a sustainable eco-safe difference then I would love to have you join the planet Changer team and make a donation today in honor of World Water Day! You can donate here:

We are currently working on two new spring protections in Uganda and are ready to continue making a difference and inspiring hope!

Monty

 

Re:Lent

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Every year I have many people ask me “What is the purpose of Lent?” Why do we emphasize or practice something that isn’t found in the Bible?” What are the origins of Lent” and  “isn’t it Catholic?” If you did not grow up in a main-line church (Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist etc.) then Lent might be foreign to you. However, if you did grow up in one of those denominations, you see Lent as a 40-day focus on repentance, and removing the things that distract us from living a God-centric life.

Another way to put it is that Lent is a 40-day retreat that helps us realign with God. I don’t know about you, but I need as many opportunities as possible to realign my heart with the heart of God.

The Biblical connections would be the 40 day period that Moses encountered God on Mt. Sinai as well as the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert and was tempted by Satan. In light of the latter, that is why fasting has been a traditional part of the Lenten journey.

We miss the power of Lent, though, when we simply think we need to give up chocolate or something we like for forty days because it’s Lent…This misses the point and is a waste of good chocolate. When we desire to draw near to God, we ask His Spirit to reveal those things which continually negotiate for His attention and we choose to reprioritize that thing in our life so that God is first. Perhaps you do have an issue with food. Food is fuel, nothing more, nothing less. So if food is used for comfort, or dealing with stress or any other way to medicate your life, then food would be a good thing to fast from. There are, however, many things that get lodged into first place leaving God in the dust.

What is it for you? Sports? Movies? Alcohol? Sex? Power? Leisure? Bad Religion?

Or maybe it’s more subtle like, stress, anger, manipulation, blaming, negativity, hatred, self-hatred, fear, excuses, arrogance or even judging.

All of these things carry something that we like, even though on the outside we would think it wrong, but somewhere there is a pay-off, and that is why we keep doing them.

Yet, when we continue to live this way, unrepentantly, these things become the gods we worship, and they are vicious gods.

Lent is a season in the church that helps us as individuals, and as a community, rid ourselves of the sins that entangle, ensnare and sabotage our spiritual growth, and that is powerful.

As life is always a two-way movement of sorts, Lent, for me, is also a time of “adding to” not merely subtracting from.

What do you need to add into your spiritual journey this year?

How about Grace-giving, compassion, meditation, prayer, reading life-giving books, forgiveness, compliments, positive words to others, pursuing justice for the marginalized and oppressed, being a conduit of love to every person you come into contact with. Teresa of Calcutta said it well:

“As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent?  Our indifference, our hardness of heart.  What are we to believe?  Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”  

I think that the most beautiful moment of Lent happens when you do your soul work, realize that there is much shadow still inside of you, and yet experience the overwhelming and irrational love and grace of God. This kind of love knocks us off of our feet, makes our head dizzy and confounds the wisest in the world. This leaves us astonished, as Brennan Manning noted:

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.” 

Grace and Peace…