The Importance of Exercise

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…  Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  He has saved us and called us to a holy life–  not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.”   2 Timothy 1: 7-9a

I’m not sure if previous generations have been bombarded as we “youngest baby boomers” have been (and generations since)  regarding the necessity of exercise, aerobics, physical fitness, etc.  This is mostly a good thing, no doubt, even if for some it goes to the extreme.  But much less is said about spiritual fitness for those who identify as Christians.  I decided to google “spiritual exercise” and was immediately deluged with info about classes and retreats that cover the “Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola,” written 1522-1524 by St. Ignatius of the Catholic Church,  founder (if I understand correctly) of the Jesuits.  Interesting!  But I clicked away till I found a more contemporary list of suggestions, authored by Cheri Strahm, as follows:  

  1. Engage in a Bible study on the character of God and develop an awareness of God throughout the day (“Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence is a very old, good, small book for the latter).
  2. Collect books/ quotes/ music that encourage meditation and prayer.
  3. Pray for opportunities to mentor someone younger in the faith.
  4. Develop a deeper prayer life (“How to Pray” by R.A. Torrey is recommended by Strahm) and keep a prayer notebook  to see how God is at work in your life.
  5. Find ways to share your faith with others.

Many of you probably have additional ideas, such as regular church attendance, group Bible study, and communing with God in nature.  It seems to me that it shouldn’t take the form of a checklist per se, but rather a mental awareness of solid personal habits that help develop stronger spiritual muscle.

I’ll finish with this quote:   “Physical fitness dominates the activities of many today.  But spiritual fitness is far more crucial to the life of the Christian, for when Christ calls you to become His disciple, He summons you to a life of labor not leisure…  That means being free from distractions, fit for action and steadfast in your labors.”  (Hodges, Hoover and Kirk)



Dear God, 

Please convict each of us of the importance of “working out” spiritually, and grant us the strength and purpose of mind and heart to follow through.  We love and praise you, Amen.

Carolyn Rex