Over the years, running has become a big part of who I am. I have trained for races of various distances, developed and deepened friendships over miles shared, and pursued time goals that required dedication through months of strict, focused training. I have also had the great privilege of coaching middle school, high school and adult runners in pursuit of their own recreational or racing goals. I have learned much about myself and life in general through training my body and mind to go distances and paces that I previously thought were impossible for me. Five to six days a week I head out to the trail and I come back tired, but refreshed. My family would likely add, easier to live with as well.
Recently I broke from my normal routine and tried something different during my daily run. Normally I listen to podcasts while I run. Podcasts have gotten me through some boring miles and miserable weather over the last few years. They have also entertained and taught me some things along the way. Lately, I have heard my own thoughts competing for listening time during those runs. When I first started running I did so without any music or other media in my ears. I ran like this for years and enjoyed the time to let my thoughts run free, work through challenges I was facing at home or work, sort through emotions and enjoy the sights and sounds around me. My body has been sending me messages that it is time to set aside time goals and mileage pursuits and go back to this less distracted state of running.
A few months ago I tried to implement prayer walks into my normal routine. Those eventually fell to the wayside. As it turns out, I find walking terribly boring. I do enjoy running though, so why not try a prayer run? It was such a blessing! I wasn’t rushed the way I sometimes feel when I am sitting on the couch to pray and have my quiet time. My tolerance for sitting in one place is very short, so I often find myself rushing through prayer. Not an ideal way to communicate with my Heavenly Father! The miles flew by as I prayed for each person in my family. During my run I could take the time to think about each person individually, give thanks for their uniqueness and pray for them in the way that I felt the Spirit leading instead of a generic ‘bless them, keep them safe’ prayer. It was amazing!
Taking the time to give thanks for each person individually and specifically begins to change how I see that person and how I interact with them. It also opens the door to reveal answered prayers of the past for each of them.
When I stop to give specific thanks for my husband I am reminded of how he is always so kind in his interactions with me. Sure, we joke around and tease each other, but he almost never acts annoyed or short tempered toward me. And it’s not because I’m easy to live with!! He just treats me with love and kindness each and every day. I am so thankful for that!! I definitely cannot say the same about myself~he is almost always the one I lash out at when I am frustrated or overwhelmed. So in this case, I can be thankful for the sweet and kind spirit of my partner and repentant for my selfish actions of being short tempered with him and ask for help to change that human weakness. That kind of attentive prayer just does not happen for me while I am sitting on the couch. It has to come while sweating and laboring through the miles. I have also noticed a lot of listening comes along with the prayer run. It is much more of a conversation with God rather than me bringing my list of requests.
As I began, I spent some time thinking about The Lord’s Prayer and how that is the model we have been given to follow in our prayer life. Beginning the conversation by acknowledging God and who He is has really changed the flavor of my prayers. It has taken the focus off of ME and MY wants and put it where it should be~on Him!
I am certainly not suggesting that you have to go out and run to have a richer, more fulfilling prayer life! Just sharing a happy and successful convergence of two things that are important in my life. I enjoy running and my body needs the exercise, but it is also time consuming. Putting my hobby to greater purpose is creating blessings in my life that I plan to continue exploring!