Recently I ran races on back to back weekends. First it was a race called Rough & Rugged which was a 5k cross country, trail, mud kind of race. I finished but was exhausted and struggled along the way. Then the next weekend I ran a 10k on a flat course. Again I finished but struggled and had to reach deep to keep pushing myself. After I finished that second race I made the comment that these races are much harder when you don’t train properly.
You see I had been running once a twice a week in preparation for both of these races. I also did nothing between the two races and I felt it on race day. I know this because at one time I did train hard and went into similar races in much better physical condition. I ran better times and felt better after the races. The preparation I put in made a difference on race day. I was both mentally and physically ready. That was not the case with these last two races.
It is similar in our spiritual lives, when we are staying connected to God and feeding our minds the truth, it is much easier to recognize lies and deal with the difficulties of life. It’s the things we do day in and day out that prepare us for those big moments in life and those small moments that make a big difference. Those crucial conversations, the big decisions, the temptation that comes out of no where or the unexpected tragedy. When we are not training spiritually those things can knock us down and take us out.
So here are some spiritual exercises we can all do to keep fit both spiritually and emotionally.
- Pray – This is a very powerful way to train. It has been proven to reduce stress and it’s a great way to express your heart to God. How incredible to know that the God of this universe wants to listen to what is going on in your life right now. Short prayers throughout the day or longer prayer times when you able are great ways to stay spiritually fit. I like to use ACTS when I pray: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
- Reading the Bible – For some this is a challenge, because they tried it and didn’t understand what they were reading so they gave up. Keep trying, try a different translation, try listening to it, but keep trying. the translation I’ve been reading lately is the New Century Version. I just read through the New Testament in 30 days and am now reading through Psalms in 30 days. You might not be able to read that much so set a goal that works for you. Find a time that you can read for 5-10 minutes and try to stay consistent When you miss a day, just pick it up the next. Pray before you read and ask God to help you understand and to pick something up that he wants to tell you or teach you.
- Go to Church – I know that sounds simple, but unless you make that a priority in your life you will only go when it suits your schedule. Today many people only go to church once or twice a month. That’s good but your missing a lot by not going every week. I know life happens and I don’t expect people to be in church every time there is a service, but it should be high on your priority list if you want to be fit spiritually. Find a church that challenges you to grow and get involved. Don’t settle for comfortable, because it’s hard to grow and train and get better when your comfortable.
- Volunteer at your Church and in the Community – When you make a commitment to volunteer it gets you out of your comfort zone and into making a difference through the local church and through good local organizations. This is one of the best ways you can grow spiritually. It will help you to serve others and be part of something bigger than yourself. Serving increases your responsibility and develops your character. It also allows you to use your gifts and abilities to make a difference.
- Get involved in a group – When you meet with other people to build relationships, learn, and care for each other it stretches you and pushes you to grow spiritually, relationally and emotionally. When you open your life to some other people it brings a new level of accountability and connection that often leads to growth. Find some other men or women or couples that you can get to know better, have fun with, have spiritual conversations and pray with.
- Listen to Messages – There is incredible communicators out there. Find someone you connect with and start listening to there messages. Several that I like a lot are Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Jon Weese.
- Read – I already mentioned reading the Bible, here I’m talking about reading blogs, articles and books. Some people avoid reading because they hated in in school. I’m not saying you have to read every day, but try to start reading because it’s a great way to get fit spiritually, mentally and emotionally. There are great resources out there that can help you improve your marriage, parenting, finances, work life and build your faith, develop your character and grow your leadership. Here are three books I’m currently reading.
- The Top Ten Leadership Commandments by Hans Finzel
- The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick
- The Cure by John Lynch
I encourage you to pick one or two of the areas I mentioned and start incorporating it into your everyday life. If you do all of those on a regular basis you will grow and become more fit spiritually.