Isaiah 61:10 – I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (NRSV)
I wasn't always a physically active person and my body-image issues don't let me remember a time when I was completely happy with the way I looked. Yet, on a summer's day in 2009, I stepped on my scale to convince a disheartened friend that I was the heavier one. When I saw the number on that scale, I knew that things had to change.
I lost 60 pounds. It can sound severe, but I assure you that it was a "two steps forward, one step back" process. There is no secret to losing weight: Exercise more and eat healthy foods with controlled portion sizes. As long as individuals are consistently burning more calories than they consume (and they don't have weight-related medical issues), they will lose weight.
But lately, as the scale creeps back up, I find myself back to my old calorie-counting ways, and so I have joined the fitness tracker movement. My fancy new wristband will monitor my heart rate constantly during exercise. With a daily goal programmed into it, watching the goal bar slowly fill up throughout the day is motivating.
I was on the treadmill one recent morning when I got to thinking about my beloved tracker, about exercise, and about the amount of time and energy that I have used — and still currently use — to think about my body image. I thought to myself, "What if I invested that amount of time and energy into my prayer life? How strong would my relationship with God become?"
What if I were using a prayer tracker instead of a fitness tracker?
The health benefits of prayer are undeniable:
- Prayer alleviates anxiety.
- It's appropriate for all occasions.
- It's a natural part of being a disciple.
- It was modelled by Jesus, the Great Physician, Himself.
I suggest an experiment:
- Choose a length of time: one day, one week, or one month.
- Set a daily goal: 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or one hour.
- Each day make yourself a paper/cardstock bracelet.
- Every time you pray, write on the bracelet how long you prayed (you can even make yourself a little progress bar and colour it in as you go).
- Try to achieve your daily goal.
- You are invited to call your fancy bracelet a Faithbit.
- Find some friends who are cool enough to also make Faithbits and motivate each other! (Bonus: when people ask you what you're wearing on your wrist, you get a free evangelism opportunity.)
I'm not quite at the point yet where I am logging just as much prayer as physical activity, but I'm getting there. I've already backed away from a couple of my sports commitments in order to make time with God a higher priority. The more time I spend with God, the more I'm realizing this: How I look matters so much less than who I am in Christ.
Prayer: Majestic God, You have clothed us with Christ's salvation. Your Holy Spirit dwells within us, sanctifying us. Help us to glorify You in our bodies and to lift up to You all our activities. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.