Saturday, February 6, 2010

Praying for Safety and Health

I suggest that the first thing in your prayer list when you go out is to pray for your own safety as you run. I think it's extremely important that you are able to complete your run safely and without injury. In this way, you could actually focus on your praying as opposed to worrying about what's lurking around you. Of course, there's always the risk of running into some danger when you go out. Like a loose angry dog, or a wayward vehicle, or some crazy person. The closest incident I've encountered is some drunk teenagers who shouted at me as they drove past me, trying to scare me off and get some reaction. Tell you what, they did manage to startle me but I stayed calm and showed no reaction and kept going. The other thing I'm always worried is a loose dog. I'm always on the lookout for an escape route just in case I will be chased by one. You know, like to climb up a tree or wall or on top of a parked car. But all these things come to mind as I run. So I strongly suggest that the first order when you set out is to pray for safety as you run.

Prayer Request

Today as I was talking with a co-worker, I mentioned to her my running mission. She talked about her ailing 90-year old mother who lives with her. I offered to include her in my prayer list in my long run this weekend. She happily agreed and was very thankful. I plan to run a mile for her mother in her honor and will reflect on her needs and offer them to God. According to my co-worker, she wants to move her mother to a senior home but she is worried that she will look at it negatively. My co-worker requested me to pray that her mother will be open and take the offer positively.

If you have a prayer request, drop me a post. Then I will pray for it as I run.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Can You Actually Pray While You Run?

I learned as a child that God sends his angels to watch over me as I sleep. I learned from a priest a few breathing techniques to prepare oneself in meditative prayer. Many religious processions pray as they walk around town to the church or a pilgrimage site. A teacher of mine told me to offer all your thoughts and actions to God. Every little work you do - from washing the dishes, to driving to work, to playing a game - can be a form of prayer to God. Why not running? Absolutely, one can actually pray while running.

When I need to do long drives, I usually pick a Saturday early morning and try to catch the break of dawn. To me, it's a spiritual experience to catch the the first break of sunlight when you can actually see the rays of the sun directly as the sky starts to brighten up. The moment stirs me to pray and give thanks to a God who made all this possible. I think it's that "misterium tremendum" feeling - a feeling of awe that lends you to surrender any need for explanation. I just want to remain here as long as possible.

I try to start out my long runs before dawn so I can experience the same feeling as I run. It's simply inspiring. This is what I look forward to when I need a motivation to get up from bed. Even how hard starting out may be and painful the run ended up to be, I never ever regret going out for a morning long run. One of the things I've learned to do from this experience is to embed in my mind the same high feeling in any run I do at any time of the day. One of the best way to do this is to pray as I run. When I start praying as I run, I gradually capture and repeat the spiritual experience of the breaking of dawn. Like in meditation, I become aware of my breathing, my feet pounding the pavement, and the road ahead of me; and place myself in God's presence. And yes, I can actually pray as I run.

What is Running?

"I'm not a runner at all. I don't know how you do it."

Quite a few people have told me this when I tell them what I like to do. Running is something any person can do. It's quite simple, too. You put one foot ahead or in front of the other, then swing your arms, one at a time. Start slow, then gradually go faster. I've done it quite a few times for a long period of time for long distances, that's why others think of me running quite effortlessly. Well, that's both true and false. Running is really easy compared to other sports because it only involves one motion over and over again. However, on the other hand, it can also be rather challenging. But there's a caveat. It is only as challenging as the goal you set for yourself. Or to put it in another way, it is only as difficult as the way you said it to be.

In my opinion, anybody can be a runner. Just do it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What is Praying?

Good question. What constitutes praying? Let me say that there are many ways to look at praying. I think there as many ways you can define it as the people who pray. But there is one thing for sure. We pray to God Almighty who is the Creator and above all things. I think that this is fundamental to the understanding of praying. To believe in praying, I have to submit and humble myself to one who is more powerful than I am. For us as Christians, we have learned a special way to pray. Jesus taught us that we can have a relationship with God who we can call our Father. Through Jesus, we are now able to have an intimate communication with God. I think that's what praying is all about - to communicate with God.

I like to share some of my favorite excerpts from our pastor's message about what praying is, which he gathered from different saints and theologians. My pastor is Fr. Roberto Corrall, O.P. at Holy Rosary Catholic Church.

Praying is...
...dialogue with God. (St. Augustine) make a place for God to enter our lives (Fr. Okumura, OCD)
...friendly conversation with God (St. Teresa of Avila)
...remaining silent before God (Fr. Okumura) seek God, to discover God in oneself (Fr. Okumura)
...the breathing of the soul (St. Augustine)
...the breathing of love (Fr. Okumura)

The last two descriptions bring me to running. Yes you can pray while running. You breathe as you run. You can breathe God's love as you run. Fill yourself with God as you run. Allow God to remain in you as you run. Every breathe, every step, God is with you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Do You Have A Prayer Request?

It's been 7 weeks since I ran outdoors. Today, it was an exhilirating feeling to feel the wind in my face, stride on black top, and feel the sight, sound, and smell of Antioch. I did an out and back 6-miler around the suburban streets which I like. The cars driving by and a few people out in the streets keep me company in my run. As I started running in cruise control around the second mile, I started to pray. I lost track of my recitation of the rosary at first because I was distracted by the sights and sounds of suburban streets, but as I turned into the trail part of my run, I started to pray more fervently with my breathing and stride in unison.

I first prayed for a safe run. This being my first run on harder surface I really wanted to come home without injury. Then I thought about my wife Aura Jane a.k.a. Jinky who in a few days will be a 10-year survivor of breast cancer. I will post more about her story in my next post but for now let me share with you her caringbridge website:

You see, she is alive today because of the prayers of so many people. As I kept running, I thought about sharing the power of prayer to people who have a prayer request. I will run a mile for your prayer request and I will think and offer your request in prayerful contemplation as I run.

Do you have a prayer request?