I’m not an athlete. And especially not a runner.
Not in any way, shape, or form.
I don’t like it.
I’m not good at it.
And my body rebels against it in pretty much every way.
I was the girl who walked the one-mile in gym class, not caring that she was among the last to finish. Until that one year I decided to try harder, and ran the whole way right before managing to race even faster into the bathroom to throw up in the toilet.
And yet, by God’s grace I’m trying to be a better steward of my health, which requires exercise. One avenue of accountability I’ve established is registering for a 5k later this month.
I’ve been exercising on my elliptical for a few weeks now, assuming that any aerobic exercise will prepare me for walking/jogging the 5k.
But a friend who is much smarter about these things than I am recently told me about the Principle of Specificity. Which basically says that your body gets used to how you train and gets good at what you train it to do.
When you’re preparing for a race, the Principle of Specificity means that the more closely your training resembles your race, the better you’ll do in the race itself.
That’s a good thing.
And I’m so thankful she shared this valuable knowledge with me, because I’ve since gotten off my elliptical a couple of times and headed out the door for a walk. With a teeny bit of jogging thrown in.
And it has kicked. My. Tail.
Forty-five minutes on an elliptical leaves me pretty sweaty.
But forty-five minutes of walking and jogging on real-life terrain full of hills covered by pavement leaves me breathless and sore and exhausted.
And even sweatier.
My body has proven the Principle of Specificity and gotten used to exercising on an elliptical. And yet I must admit, constantly training the same way day after day after day was starting to get…well, boring.
Not to mention the fact my body’s health wasn’t as well-rounded as it should be. And the rate of my health’s improvement had slowed.
I wasn’t making the progress I should…and I didn’t even know it.
I got comfortable. That’s the danger that accompanies the Principle of Specificity.
It has occurred to me that this applies to my time with God, too.
More like a chore than an adventure?
Does it ever start resembling all the other items on your to-do list, rather than being your strongest craving?
Sometimes this is because my heart attitude isn’t right. Thankfully, God changes my heart when I ask Him to.
But other times, I think I just need a change of pace. A new perspective that reminds me that my God is real, replacing my stagnancy with vibrancy.
Here are some ideas that can help our times with God to stay fresh and alive, sparking some excitement and vitality into this relationship that’s more important than any other.
1.)Change your location. Many of us have a spot we call our own. Even Jesus frequently headed up to the Mount of Olives. It was His “usual” (Luke 22:39). But every now and then it’s good to break apart from your usual, or even create a new usual altogether. A change in scenery can grant a change in perspective, reminding us that our God is so much bigger than our usual.
2.)Get a prayer partner. Praying with my husband, with a friend, or with a small group of ladies leaves me refreshed. It encourages me to hear them share what’s on their heart, and to agree with them in prayer. It reminds me that the world is much bigger than me and my problems, bringing the focus of my prayers away from myself and onto others. It alerts me to needs I hadn’t been aware of, giving me the opportunity to serve. It’s been my experience that God brings a special blessing when we obey Galatians 6:2 and “bear one another’s burdens” in prayer. Even praying over the phone with a friend has always been a meaningful time.
3.)Take a walk. Play Christian music as you walk, and allow the lyrics to prompt you to lift your heart in worship to your God. Or leave the ear buds home altogether and spend the time in prayer, talking openly with God as though He were your walking buddy. Meditate on Scripture you’ve memorized, praying it back to the Lord. Spend time pondering His work in your life. Some tender insights have come as I’ve communed with God while I walk.
4.)Try a different time of day. Do you typically have your quiet time right before bed? Change things up and start your day with Him by getting up a little earlier than usual. I’m a true “night person,” but I’ve seen how God seems to honor my meager sacrifice when I get up earlier for Him…and not only does He sustain me and keep me alert throughout the day, He heaps on the added blessing of helping me start the day with the right attitude and the correct priorities. Starting my day with divine relationship refocuses my motives on faithful stewardship. You can also try meeting with Him on your lunch break at work, spending time with Him while the kids are napping, or closing your day with Him right before you go to sleep.
5.)Teach. Many teachers will tell you that as they prepare for a lesson, they learn far more than they teach. See if your church has opportunities to teach Sunday School or to lead a small group. Start a ladies’ Bible study in your home. Or find a believer who is younger in the faith, and develop a mentoring relationship. We weren’t meant to live our Christian lives in a bubble. Teaching others will enrich your life both now and for eternity.
6.)Challenge yourself…and maybe a friend! Maybe it’s a Scripture memory challenge. Perhaps it’s completing a particular book of the Bible. It could even be reading the entire Bible in a specified length of time. What about meditating on a particular passage over several days or weeks, and seeing how many insights God grants from a single portion of His Word? Another idea is to start a prayer journal and see how many answered prayers you can record in a given time period. Refresh your outlook and put your faith to the test by challenging yourself.
7.)Get on your knees. I don’t do this enough. But there are lots of reasons why it’s a good thing. It is a physical demonstration of my heart attitude before God. It indicates to God my reverence for Him, and reminds me of my humility before Him. It also tends to be less comfortable than other positions, which keeps my prayers intense and focused. Praying effectively and fervently is work (James 5:16). It requires effort. And there’s something about being postured on my knees that prompts me to “get to work” with the business of prayer.
How do you keep your time with God fresh and alive? Please take some time and share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Written by Jennifer Clarke