Tell ten of your friends or family to take 25 squats within five minutes. A few will try to do so. Especially as it’s a sincere request from you. But many would refuse saying that they cannot do beyond 5 squats.
I tried the above with different groups. I tried this at the office with colleagues, I tried with friends, I also tried with extended family.
But the results were more or less similar. Even when the age composition of the groups were varied with 60% of the group being below 30 years or 60% being below 50 years, the results were similar.
Yet we know, without any doubt, that with practice 9 out of 10 of the people in these age brackets would be able to do it.
Practice creates a path, initially sketchy, narrow and crooked! But with regular practice, it becomes wide, then it becomes a wider path, then it becomes straight, until it becomes a wide high speed highway.
If we need a body with layers of fat, transformed into a trim, fit shapely body, we should exercise regularly. Tangible results cannot happen overnight. A one day exercise will not make any dent or any perceptible change.
Rather daily, weekly consistent habits over a few months can only bring us to a place of great and significant change.
The same case with any game you desire to play better. A regular practice routine spending hours is required. A weeks or months practice may help a bit, but years of practice will create an awesome transformation that all would perceive and appreciate.
What holds good for physical exercise, games, sports, learning, mental gymnastics, holds good for a life pleasing God as well. Is this scriptural? Absolutely yes.
But before going that way, I want to quote a modern day evangelist, Dr. Morris Cerullo. He often says: All truths are parallel. This simple, yet profound statement points to the truth that principles of success which hold good for “physical sports”, hold true even for “spiritual matters”.
Here are a few verses from the Bible which point to the need of practicing various “spiritual exercises” regularly.
This Bible Verse reminds us to practice the spiritual exercise of prayer.
Give ear to my words, O Lord,
Consider my meditation.
Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.
(Psalm 5:1-3 NKJV)
Many of us know that daily morning physical exercise is good. Some of us even are regular in doing so. Wonder why we do not realize the importance of practicing “spiritual exercise” of prayer.
In the verse below we are reminded to practice the “spiritual exercise” of delighting in the law of the Lord, thinking, pondering (meditating) on God’s law day and night. We are also asked to walk, stand and sit in specific places and avoid the others. These are decisions and options to be chosen. As we follow them, we are practicing the “spiritual exercises.”
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
(Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV)
This Bible verse below reminds us to practice spiritual exercise of “lifestyle of rejoicing”, ongoing prayer, prayer at work, prayer when traveling.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV)
We are reminded to keep practicing the spiritual exercise of “giving thanks in everything.” When we observe this we are doing a spiritual exercise.
Initially practicing this exercise of “rejoicing always” will not be easy. It was never meant to be.
All exercise involves flexing of muscles, muscles of body or mind. We often prefer to default to a state of rest – without exercising instead of physical exercise. This is the same case even with spiritual exercise. We prefer not to praise, but rather express anger, offense or bitterness. To practice “spiritual exercise” takes effort and determination.
We have to make a will, make a decision not to go by our default behavior, but to choose to express praise, because Jesus Christ lives in us. Because the Holy Spirit abides in us.
As we surrender to the Holy Spirit, we can be successful in the “spiritual exercise”. Remember unlike in “physical exercise” where it’s our effort, in “spiritual exercise” we surrender to the “Holy Spirit”. We start expressing praises to God. This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. Check out the verse given in blue a few lines above.
The old nature frets and fumes, is offended and complains instead of rejoicing / praying. But all these behaviors change as we surrender ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to reign in us. We will certainly have words to praise God.
My wife and I have a gym instructor, who trains both of us for 3 days in a week for 45 minutes. We know this will benefit us.
We know we will be healthier at 60 as we practice these exercises.
We know we will be healthier at 70 with these exercises when we are regular in our exercise routine.
Yet when the trainer is not present, we delight in the break we get.
Some days we are tired and desire a break and let the trainer know this.
All these are true realities for people with weakness like us.
But that does not mean that we give up on training.
We try, we encourage each other.
We are resolved.
We know that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (I Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV)
We remember if we take care of our body, we can serve people, cities and nations.
We want to be healthy and chosen instruments and vessels for God’s glory.
We believe we can bring Heaven on earth when we are healthy.
We remind ourselves that when we are healthy, we can reach out to neighbors, friends and extended family members.
We want to fulfill all the Lord’s plan and purpose for our lives.
So we choose to practice “physical exercise” regularly, intentionally reminding ourselves of all these matters. We know it’s best to be regular.
We desire to please God.
We want to fulfill all – ALL THE PLANS and PURPOSES GOD HAS FOR US.
So we practice all the “spiritual exercises” He wants us to practice each day.
So that the Kingdom of God advances every day of our life.
And one day, when we meet the Lord, we want to hear from Him, “Well done my son, my daughter.”
All this reminds us, keeps us determined to keep practicing “spiritual exercises”.
May the Lord bless you abundantly with the grace to be consistent in your “spiritual exercise.”
God bless you.