Fitness Tracking

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "There Were Ninety And Nine"1 (Lyrics)

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.

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About the author:

Susan Mattinson <>
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen to your prayer.

    Susan, love your creativity for the Lord.

    A great challenge Susan. Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks so much! I will use this during VBS. Blessings.

    Love this!!!! Appreciate your honesty! AND your encouragement.

    Well done, Susan. Suggest smaller task and add to it as the situation requires.

    What a wonderful idea! Thank you Susan.
    (ON Canada)

    Susan I love your devotional: Priorities dead on; Making yourself accountable, absolutely fabulous. God bless you.

    Thanks for this, Susan, you have put onto paper what I have been trying to work at myself. That is, maintaining spiritual fitness as well as physical. You have some great ideas about that. All the best with your FitBit and FaithBit!

    Dear Susan,
    What a powerful idea and a fun one also. I am sure it will be a great motivator for us to have a closer relationship with God. Thanks for sharing.

    Good Morning Susan,
    What a great idea for a faithbit. Maybe you should patent them and sell them. Who knows it might be as successful as Fitbits.
    God Bless.

    Dear Susan:
    Wow!! What a great idea! Thank you for your encouraging words about Prayer and too, for your strength in losing weight. I have the same problem but I have mobility issues too. I will not stop trying.
    God bless you always.

    This is a challenging idea, Susan from one who has tried most of the sure-fire weight loss gimmicks.
    Having surgery works, until you recuperate.
    The idea you put forth could be likened to a book called the 30 day praise challenge by Becky Harling. The two would go well together.

    Thank You. Paper won’t work for me but a chart will.

    Dear Susan – thanks for your faithbit suggestion! God has blessed me with the opportunity to holiday in AZ. I am finding that I can combine walking and meditation/prayer as I marvel at his wonderful creation. Blessings.

    Hello Susan, this devotional really struck a chord with me! I too am a fitbit wearer, I don’t have a weight issue but at the age of 71 I am aware of the need to keep active and I try to get my 10,000 steps in several days a week.
    And I have been procrastinating about making more time for prayer. Yes, I utter a short prayer in the morning before getting out of bed. Yes, I pray at night after getting into bed, I often fall asleep during this prayer. And yes, I pray during the day. But I’ve been telling myself I need to set aside a specific time and focus on praying. I think your suggestion of a faithbit for prayer is brilliant! I doubt I would actually make a bracelet but even mentally logging prayer time as I do exercise time is motivating. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Blessings, and keep on writing!

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you for comparing sustained physical activity and work toward weight control with sustained prayer.
    Yes, we can even pray for power to be regular in reading the Bible and praying as we can pray for being regular in weight-control measures.
    I have prayed for you. God loves you, never stops loving, and is faithful to us now, and beyond death into all eternity.

    Hello Susan:
    Just want to thank you for your devotional on the fitness tracker. It was my story for sure. I am always trying to keep my weight under control and I have taken up using a faithbit on a daily basis.
    I used your devotional this morning at my Bible Study class. I would like to share your devotional on our site on the internet with full credits given.
    Your devotional was very well received by the class and I’ve had a number of requests to send subscriptions for the PresbyCan Devotional to individuals in my class.
    Thanks again.

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