Prayer and Exercise

Strange title you say? Yes, I thought so too. A couple of months ago or so, I did a breakout study in our adult Sunday school class on the importance of personal devotions or having a daily “quiet time.” We take it for granted that healthy bodies require regular food, exercise and sleep but too often we neglect any kind of regular maintenance for our spiritual lives. I ended the series with an illustration using a jar with rocks and pebbles that showed very graphically that if we get the important things into our life jar first we actually get more in. Translation: you can’t beat having your quiet time in the early morning. No phones. No kids. No distractions. Your time with God then becomes the organizing principle around which the rest of your day revolves and you actually get more done and end up being happier and less stressed out in the long run. One of the best illustrations in Scripture is the manna in the wilderness. It always fell in the early morning, and if you didn’t get up and about and collect your manna, it disappeared with the rising sun. I’d like to write a book about it some time, but when will I get time for that?

Now to the exercise part. This evening I was doing some internet research (don’t you love Google!) on the question of whether it’s more beneficial to exercise in the morning or the evening. What I found was that it doesn’t really matter all that much as far as weight loss, etc., BUT studies do show that those who exercise early in the morning are more CONSISTENT. In other words, of those people who begin a new exercise program, those who chose the early morning for this activity were more likely to still be doing it a year later. Why? Because it’s easier to establish and maintain a consistent habit early in the day. Those who chose the afternoon or evening were more prone to allowing other activities to crowd out their exercise time. Which is exactly why the early morning is the best time of the day for establishing a regular, consistent devotional life. I was especially impressed with posters on a certain internet message board who reported regularly rising at 5:00 in the morning to exercise! Talk about commitment! I remember once reading one of the old time Puritans or early Methodists who said he was ashamed whenever he awoke to the sound of workers on their way to their daily labors in the early morning hours and he had not yet started his quiet time with God. The early morning exercisers ought to shame us into keeping an early morning appointment with God.