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Do You Exercise Like a Nonbeliever?

How to Pray for Our Exercise

Finally, then, according to 1 Timothy 4:4–5, it is not enough only to thank God for bodily exercise and view it in light of what he says. Making it holy also involves prayer—asking God for help. But what do we ask? Here’s a few suggestions to get you started as you consider your own:

– Father, please give me the will to overcome laziness tomorrow morning, lace up my shoes and take the first step—and then work such discipline throughout my life in the fight against sin.

– Father, give me the drive to push my body beyond what is merely comfortable, to “discipline my body and keep it under control” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

– Father, loosen my grip on my own performance and results and personal goals. May my exercise not ultimately be about me, but about my increased enjoyment of Jesus.

– Father, guard me from valuing bodily training more than godliness. Rather, make these efforts holy, through my acting in faith, so that this exercise serves my holiness, instead of competing with it.

– Father, grant that I would know you and enjoy you more through pushing my body in this way. Let me feel your pleasure through this natural gift so that I am spiritually satisfied enough to sacrifice my own preferences and personal routines to meet the needs of others.

As Christians, our final aim in bodily exertion is not weight-loss or maximal long-term health—and definitely not mere physical appearance. Rather, we aim at greater joy in God, and greater love for neighbor. What makes exercise holy, and loving, is the prayer that our expenditures of energy will lead to our increased readiness to expend ourselves in sacrifice for others.

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.