I could feel my heart pounding in my ears. Marcelle was ahead of me, setting the pace. I blinked through beads of sweat to focus my gaze on her back. It was dark.
The only sound was that of our sneakers hitting the sidewalk, and the occasional car or bus coming around the bend. I steadied my breathing, slowly inhaling the fresh pre-dawn air. It was March 11, 2017. My first 5.6 km run.
51 minutes later, we were done and I felt a keen sense of accomplishment. I hadn’t stopped, despite pain in my calves and the daunting incline of the final metres where we ran uphill along the highway. The run was the culmination of 6 weeks of intense physical training.
I was a participant in a Fat Loss Challenge - a program organised by a local gym with the support of local companies to benefit their employees. I exercised 4- 5 times a week.
I’d leave work in the evenings and head straight to Zumba, Spin or Cardio Blast class, no matter how tired I was or how stressful the day had been. On Saturdays at 5am, I would join the gym’s running club for their weekly run.
At the end of the Challenge, although my team didn’t win, we had great results. I lost 5 pounds of fat, reduced by body fat percentage by 2% and lost 10.5 inches off my waist. I felt fitter and stronger, as I had built muscle mass.
Then God reminded me of 1 Timothy Chapter 4, Verses 7-8:
“...rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
The next question was: while the physical discipline brought me excellent results, when was the last time I put as much effort into my spiritual life?
I also began to wonder what results I would see if I made an equal investment of time and effort into the things of God.
I did an audit of my daily pattern: when I get to work, I would read a 3 minute-a-day devotional book, a chapter of the Bible and say a quick prayer - usually all within 5 minutes.
Now, God was challenging me to devote my first hour of the day to Him. What would it be like if, instead of jumping out of bed at 7:15am to get ready for work, I actually set my alarm an hour earlier and give that time to God?
What if I approached time with Him with the same tenacity, determination and zero tolerance towards slacking off as it did during the Challenge? What would a systematic approach to prayer and devotional time with God look like?
How would my spiritual life flourish? Would I lose the flab of habitual sins? Gain the strength to overcome temptation and persevere through trials?
God wants me and you to be consistent and intentional about our faith.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that we make sure to work out and get fit. Time spent exercising is good. Our bodies are the temple of the living God. However, of more lasting value is focussing on our spiritual wellness.
A simple tool to get you started
I got some inspiration for a prayer schedule I recently saw posted in the classroom of a local primary school – a room on weekends by a writing group I attend. You don’t have to follow the schedule but the headings may be helpful to you for guidance. I have only filled on the first week and left the rest blank for you to complete. Click HERE for the schedule.
This is a template only, not to be followed slavshly. Each night you should pray and ask God what He wants to talk to you about the next morning. I’d suggest you research bible verses on particular areas you know you need to work on. The Holy Spirit will reveal verses that relate to that topic.
Here are some tips:
1. Take time for God consistently. Don’t allow tiredness or distractions to get in the way;
2. Make the time spent with God quality time- the time of the day when you are at your physical and mental best;
3. Pray and ask God about the areas in your life He wants you to work on and the best way to do honour Him over the next 6 weeks. Use those areas as themes in a prayer schedule;
4. Write down how you will approach it, so you have a record and guide;
5. Tell close Christian friends about what you are committing to so they can give you support;
6. Do it!
I guarantee that 6 weeks from now, your life will benefit tremendously from the discipline of putting God first in every area.
Ready, set, go!
Sharma Taylor is a corporate attorney with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Law from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. This year, she is committed to pursuing God even harder than before.
Sharma Taylor's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sharma-taylor.html
Sharma Taylor is a corporate attorney with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Law from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. She won the 2017 Basil Sellers International Young Writers prize in the Press Service International young writer program, the 2019 Tronson Award (International) and the 2021 Basil Sellers award for International Senior Writers. Every day, she loves experiencing the beautiful surprises that God has stored up for her and longs to keep cultivating a servant-heart.