I don’t know about you, but I’m not a runner.
When I raced with my friends as a kid, I always came in last.
But in February 2019, I decided to start exercising again to build up my endurance. I was down on the treadmill every day, averaging around three thousand steps a day. Nothing was going to stop me.
Later that month, we went on vacation and I got over ten thousand steps, three days in a row. I knew I had it.
When we got home, guess who stopped exercising? First I thought, “We just got home from a long trip, how about you just relax for a few days?” Every day that went by, it got easier and easier to say no to exercising. There was always something that was more important (or fun)—school, reading, writing, watching TV.
Exercise is like our morning devotions—we know it’s good for us, but there’s always something more exciting that calls our attention away.Exercise is like our morning devotions—we know it’s good for us, but there’s always something more exciting that calls our attention away. Click To Tweet
Hebrews tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
We are called to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
How can a spiritual couch potato run with endurance?
It’s like me getting up and running a lap around our shed. I’ll be out of breath, tired, and miserable.
Paul tells us, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
Here are three spiritual disciplines to help you run with endurance:
1. Study the Bible on Your Own
If you want to grow in your faith, it’s not enough to just go to church on Sundays or Bible study on weeknights. It’s not even enough to simply read a few verses every morning.
We need to diligently study God’s Word on our own.
2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
How do you study the Bible?
For starters, take time to carefully read what the passage says. Most Bibles have cross-references (the little letters and numbers) either at the bottom of the page or in the middle. They will take you to related passages. Scripture interprets Scripture!
If you have a study Bible, read the notes for the section you’re studying. Sometimes there are additional cross-references in the notes.
There are all kinds of books that you can find to help you study the Bible as well as other spiritual topics, but it’s important to exercise discernment because there are many popular books out there that have major errors in them. You could ask your pastor for some suggestions, but remember to always compare everything you read and hear to Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:21), like the Bereans did in Acts 17:11. If it doesn’t match up with God’s Word, it’s wrong!
2. Apply What You Learn
Head-knowledge is useless if we don’t apply it to our lives. James tells us, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”Head-knowledge is useless if we don’t apply it to our lives. Click To Tweet
If we study the Bible (looking into the mirror of the law) and walk away thinking, “Oh, that’s nice,” and don’t do anything about what we just learned, we are a hearer and not a doer.
If we take what we’ve learned and apply it to our lives, we are doers of the word. This includes the hard parts of Scripture (like Philippians 2:3-11 on humility) as well as the parts that seem “easy” or “comfortable” for us.
3. Privately Pray
There’s nothing easier to do than neglect personal, private prayer. It’s easy to think, “It’s been a long day, do I really need to pray? God will understand that I’ve been busy.” Or, “I’m really sick, why should I try to pray? I’ll do it later, when I feel better.”
But when we are tired, stressed, sick, lonely, or busy, those are the most important times to pray! Those are the times when we need to take our focus off ourselves and spin it 180 degrees around to God.
Prayer is essential to our sanctification. It helps us to defeat sin and draws us nearer to God.
Christian, do you realize the immense privilege it is to pray to the God of the universe? Hebrews 4:16 tells us to “draw near to the throne of grace” with “confidence.” We have access to God through Christ’s atonement. Let’s not take this privilege for granted.
The Christian walk isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. You’ll be working on these spiritual exercises the rest of your life. There is always room to grow.
It will be hard. It will take discipline. But isn’t that like all exercise?
The temporary struggles and aches from stretching formerly unused muscles will be worth it in the long run. What could be better than a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ?