Sunday, July 19, 2015

5 Ways To Pray As You Run

One cold early morning in the middle of winter during World War I, an extraordinary event brought enemies together.  It’s known as the Christmas Truce of 1914. It is said that while deep in their trenches, the soldiers heard singing of “Silent Night.”  Then in a rare moment, the soldiers put down their rifles, emerged from the lines, and mingled with each other. The event is seen as a miracle, a testament to man’s desire for peace and God’s prevailing presence in our lives.

Photo courtesy www,ericgould.com
The story always tugs at my heartstrings because it reminds me of God’s longing for us. In the midst of our busy lives, sometimes it almost feels like going to war, we forget how much God is wanting to fight our battles and give us his peace.  The victory is that we can find that peace by praying. We put our weapons of work down, come out of our busy schedule, and pray. For runners and active people, you can achieve that prayerful experience as you do your favorite activity, says Roger Joslin, author of the book “Running the Spiritual Path.”  From his book, I compiled a few ways to be able to pray and feel God’s presence as you run.

1. Mother Teresa Run.  Look kindly in the eyes of every person you meet and offer a smile. Mother Teresa said that she sees Jesus in the face of every person that she meets. She said that smiling at someone is an action of love. It doesn’t matter who it is, smiling at each other help us learn greater love for each other.

2. Nature Run. Feel your feet when it strikes against the earth. Sense the breeze brushing against your face.  Hear the rustling of the leaves on the trees or the scampering of critters when you run by.  See the distinct colors of nature around you. Be attuned to the natural elements around you and focus the direct impact on your body.  Feel your connection with creation and its Creator.

3. The Prodigal Son Run.  In this parable, the prodigal son came to his senses after squandering his father’s wealth.  So the son decided to take the road back to his father’s home.  “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:17) What a powerful and prayerful visual! As you’re running, when a pressing thought comes to mind, think of a loving and forgiving Father running towards you.

4. The Benedictine Run. The priestly order of the Benedictines practices a life of balance. For the Benedictines, each day must include some time spent in work, some in prayer, some in sacred reading, and some in community building. Joslin, in his book, suggests to divide your run into three parts:  First, write a Scripture passage onto a small piece of paper to bring with you and read over the passage a few times before running.  Second, recite or even memorize the passage as you run and ponder on the words. And thirdly, keep your eyes open for work or helping activities that may appear – like picking up bits of trash, removing a stone from the path, or be ready to stop running and be of assistance to anyone in need.

5. Mindful Running.  Like a priest who puts on his vestments, gear up for a run slowly and methodically. Pay special attention as you put on your socks and lace your shoes carefully, prayerfully. Start out running slowly and be aware of your breathing. Let go of thoughts that arise and be mindful of your running.  It is our tendency to distract our mind by entertaining all kinds of thoughts that come to mind. But Joslin suggests to be present at a single task at hand and avoid the multitasking going in your head.  Instead, focus on running mindfully, empty a space in yourself, and make room for God. Be rested in God’s presence and you will find peace.

How can I pray for you today? A special intention, for safe travel, for a loved one, for a job? Let me pray for you and with you. Post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/prayingrunner or email me at prayingrunner@gmail.com. You can also post your prayer request on the comments page on this blog.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pain and Courage

Photo from www.wellandgood.com
So the last six weeks have been difficult because I’ve been sidelined by an injury.  I am unable to run due to plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is an injury to your foot typically caused by excessive tension of the plantar fascia, a band of connective tissue on the bottom of the foot. Repeated tension of the fascia can cause inflammation.  In other words, pain! 

I was at the peak of my training when the pain got worse.  Just when I started thinking of myself as invincible, I felt very helpless.  For a runner, six weeks of no running feels like forever.  However, I tried not to let it bother me inasmuch as it was affecting my morale. I thought about other people who have more debilitating pain or more permanent injury.  I remember my late wife who lived through the pain of breast cancer for 11 years. She didn’t get cured, but she went through a healing.

I look back at my wife’s life and at other people who went through some pain and suffering, and I reflect on what quality they have that stands out the most.  It’s courage.  It’s that inner strength that we call upon when we are faced with fear and anxiety.  It’s at the heart of your soul that gets you going in the midst of hardship and pain. Courage is having an indomitable faith that healing will take place. We are human beings and we are all subject to pain in our lives, but God created our spirit that transcends our mortal senses.  Courage is our path to healing.  My wife passed away from cancer; but in her last years,  she was able to live her life the fullest and most loving that she can ever be. She may not have been cured of the cancer, but she was completely healed. 

The other day, I decided to test run my condition. I went slowly and didn’t go too far, but I was running.  In a similar way, we all live with some pain be it physical or emotional; but we are called to be courageous and continue moving on.  We may carry the pain as we go; but have faith and bring it up to God in prayer. And live with confidence that He will bring you healing.


"This is my command – be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." – Joshua 1:9

How can I pray for you today? Perhaps an injury, pain, or illness? A emotional hurt? Or an unanswered prayer? Let me pray for you and with you. Post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/prayingrunner or email me at prayingrunner@gmail.com. You can also post your prayer request on the comments page on this blog.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Run Where The Brave Dare Not Go

I still distinctly remember approaching the finish line of my first ever full marathon 10 years ago in Big Sur in California. Just about a hundred yards to go I was running and giving it everything I have, digging deep physically; then hearing the crowd cheer, I got overcome by my emotions of achieving such a feat.  I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know whether I wanted to burst into tears or throw up in fatigue.

To run a marathon (26.2 miles or 42 kilometers) is an uncommon goal for any individual. Only about half of 1% of the U.S. population has run a marathon.  When I first set my goal to run one, I couldn’t tell if my friends were impressed or thought that I was crazy.
 
So why did I run a marathon? To me, it was a unique opportunity to challenge my physical strength and mental toughness.  It was a test of my spirit and determination to rise above and beyond my abilities. If I could do it in running, perhaps I could also do the same in anything if I put forth all my effort and willpower, ready for all struggles and challenges, then I will always come out victorious in my attempts to better myself and my world around me.

My last statement is almost quixotic.  But don’t we have all have some kind of idealistic dream?  So why not go for them. Don Quixote, the Man of La Mancha himself suggests a reason why.  When asked by Aldonza, the simple peasant woman rough on the edges who Don Quixote adores, why he does all the chivalrous things to her, Don Quixote replied, “I hope to add some measure of grace to the world.”

I think we are all called to contribute something to better the world. Idealistic it may seem, you hold fast to your dreams for a better world and don’t ever let it go. In the face of trials and defeat, don’t give up. In the midst of pain and grief, you keep going. You run where the brave dare not go.

Photo courtesy from pixabay.com
The title of my blog post and last line is from the song “The Impossible Dream” in the 1965 Broadway musical “Man of La Mancha” and was also featured in a movie of the same title in 1972. Take the time to listen and be inspired, not so much to set a running goal like a marathon, as to remember to always seek to be better today than you are yesterday.

How can I pray for you today? Post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/prayingrunner or email me at prayingrunner@gmail.com. You can also post your prayer request on the comments page on this blog.

"The Impossible Dream" 
Version by Andy Williams 1971
(my late father's favorite singer)


Sunday, March 15, 2015

God of the Mountain is still God in the Valley

In his book “Ultramarathon Man,” Dean Karnazes describes the highest and lowest elevations of the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile footrace through the mountains and valleys of the Sierra Nevada range in California.  Dean said that the summit was breathtaking in every direction.  At the bottom of the canyon, it was utterly stifling.
   
It’s interesting to note here how air is used to describe both an awesome and an unpleasant feeling.  At the summit, Dean gasped in awe of the view; and at the lowest point, he actually gasped for air.

Photo courtesy:  Active.com
To me, it shows how the air we breathe encompass us wherever we are – whether at a mountain top or at the depths of a valley. That’s how God is present in our lives – like the air we breathe – God is present at the highest and lowest point in our lives.  Like the verse of the song, "God of the mountain is still God in the valley."

No matter how successful we are now, we all went through some rock bottom experience.  A friend of mine recently went through a divorce, and then underwent a thyroid surgery, and a month later learned that he will be let go of his job. How worse can it get?  It can feel overwhelming for anyone, but remember that God is with you in bad times as He was there for you in good times. When you feel like you are at an all-time low, gasp for God. With your faith in God intact, you can only get something good out of even the most difficult time in your life.

Even though I walk in the valley of darkness, I will fear no evil for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)

How can I pray for you today? Let me know.  Post here, email me at prayingrunner@gmail.com, or post on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/prayingrunner

Sunday, March 8, 2015

No whining!

Under my visor, I was hiding what I truly felt. At Mile 22, I was dog-tired. I struggled to make each step because my calf muscles were as hard as brick.
But I could hear the cheers of a line of spectators behind the official race photographer who was clicking away at the runners as they pass. So the trooper that I am, I picked up my pace, swung those arms, held my head up high and flashed my game face of determination. The crowd cheered and the photographer took shots saying, "There you go! That's the way to work it!"

Running a marathon is not easy. I saw a poster on the course which says, "Chuck Norris never ran a marathon!" That's how hard running a marathon can be even for the toughest guy you know. So I guess it's reasonable to expect a runner to gripe in pain at some point. However, even so, you don't want to whine about it.

Helen Klein, at age 85,
broke the marathon world record
for her age group.
In the same way, the journey of life is like a marathon course. It's not easy. As you live your life, you go through ups and downs, you experience pain, you may trip and fall, and sometimes you feel like quitting. But you don't. You keep going and before you know it, you see a crowd of people cheering for you. In life, these are your friends and family and even some random stranger who believe in you. That's why they're there. Take delight in their words of encouragement even though they're not running your race.

Most importantly, don't whine! Even at the hardest part of the race. Even during the most trying event in your life. You keep moving forward with a positive and hopeful outlook. I overheard a response by Helen Klein, who at age 85 ran the fastest marathon for her age group, to a question as to how she is able to endure a marathon. She said that along the course, she just keeps thinking, "I'm going to have a good rest when I finish the race." Like a marathon, you can expect some difficult turns in your life. But instead of whining when you're actually faced with a difficulty, take time to reframe the problem and think about solutions.

Lastly, remember that there's that photographer on the course. While he knows what you're doing is hard, he's got his camera trained on you. Like a photographer, God has His focus on you all the time.While you give it all you've got, he's about to capture the best in you.  He knows your pain and wants you to worry less; but instead, God wants you to run to him even more.

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all that he's done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Is there anything I can pray for you today? Let me know.  Post here, email me at prayingrunner@gmail.com, or post on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/prayingrunner

Godspeed!