I rarely wake up, leap out of bed, throw back the shades with a “yay, morning.” Instead, I usually turn over, stretch out my hand and feel for a mug of tea, which I hope my husband has made for me. The caffeine gives me the kick I need to get out of my cocoon. Some mornings, I must admit, I do grumble — I’m not a morning person — yet there is one activity that changes my attitude and demeanor—a walk and talk with God.
For years my regular pattern each day, when my schedule allowed, was to put on my fitness gear the moment I got out of bed, get outside, and spend 30 minutes walking and praying.
When I came back in the door, my husband said I was a different person. He meant I was much more pleasant to be around. And I could feel the change, too. It made a difference to how I approached the rest of my day. I felt refreshed, more relaxed, and ready to tackle anything.
Health experts tell us physical exercise helps relieve stress. It releases endorphins, which stimulate relaxation. The good thing is though, we don’t have to go crazy — like run a marathon or climb a mountain. Instead, simply walking, and not even too briskly, can help. And walking is accessible to just about all of us.
One study I read found doing mind exercises or meditating while walking produced even more dramatic results to reduce stress. We can include prayer in this category. However, I believe prayer is more effective than a mind exercise. Prayer is communing with God who cares about our stress levels and who promises that when we bring our anxiety to him we will find peace. Releasing our problems to God while we walk benefits our mind, body and soul. Physical exercise with prayer is stress-busting.
So, how do you put this into practice?
Find a place to walk and pray — a place you will enjoy going to. Make sure it is distraction free and where you will not be disturbed.
Choose a time of day that suits your schedule. It may be early in the morning, in the evening, or even during your lunchtime as you take a break from work.
Find a “cue” that will encourage you to exercise and pray. For me, it’s putting on my fitness gear. Or leaving my sneakers out. Sometimes, I don’t feel like exercising or don’t think I have the time. However, when I remember I’m turning down time with my heavenly Father, and that’s he waiting for me to come to him, then this encourages me to get going.
Most of all, persevere. Walking and talking to God may be hard to practice, but practice hard and you will be satisfied.
Choose a routine. Dream big but set realistic goals. If you set a goal that is too high and you fail to achieve it, you might be less likely to try again the next time. Don’t give up. Alter your goal. Make it fit your lifestyle. Set yourself up for success.
The Prayer Zone Workout book gives you a structure you can use for prayer and walking.
Journal about your experience. Write down the reward you gain from your activity. By the way, journaling has been found to help with stress too. Journaling will help you to remember how good you felt and encourage you for next time.
You will be rewarded for your efforts. My reward is usually feeling calmer. Sometimes though, I receive clarity to a problem or a sense of peace because I’ve taken the opportunity to ask for and receive forgiveness from God.
Tingling in the thighs when you’ve exercised? Then you know your body has benefited too. However, if you are unsure whether you should do physical activity, please consult your doctor first.
This week find time for a walk and talk with God.