This post is by Christina Painter.
My morning routine has been all over the place since our nation was swept up in a global pandemic. School was cancelled for the rest of the year (at least meeting in person was) and suddenly I found myself at home everyday with my husband and our two kids. Mornings began to look different and routines became very inconsistent with the exception of one little element that has become a habit, a joy, and a reset button.
Back in January when everyone was making New Year’s resolutions, I decided it was time to get back into the habit of becoming physically stronger and healthy. As I was thinking through this, I knew I had to be more specific or it would never happen. I will go ahead and admit, I don’t stick to resolutions! I decided that rather than forcing myself to run (which I’ve never really enjoyed, though I wish I did!), I would set a goal for walking. I also decided that since I loved to do pilates, I would make that a goal as well.
I was chatting about my goals with a fellow teacher at work one day. I told her I wanted to walk 100 miles and do 100 pilates classes before my family and I went on our summer beach vacation. It was early January and our trip was at the beginning of June, which gave me plenty of time to meet the goal. My friend immediately said, “Oh, you need a chart to keep track of these goals!”.
As an elementary school teacher, I was immediately on board. It sounds silly, but we printed out two 100’s charts, and my journey to a lasting fitness habit began. I knew that in order to reach my goal by June, I would have to hit 20 a month. That felt doable! It gave me some grace days in the month and I didn’t feel overwhelmed. The chart kept me accountable and helped me to visibly see my progress.
As the weather warmed, I started getting up earlier, grabbing my coffee, and heading out the door to walk my mile around our neighborhood. Naturally as I was walking, my mind drifted to the Lord as I took in the beauty of His creation all around me. I realized that these walks were the perfect time for prayer. Sometimes I pray aloud (and hope my neighbors don’t think I am talking to myself!) and sometimes I just pray in my head. I’ve also been trying to clear my mind and listen for the Lord to speak to me.
Walking started as a way to improve my physical health, but quickly became just as important for my spiritual health. I found myself craving my walks so I could really focus and pray without the distractions of home. When the weather isn’t conducive to walking outside, I find a podcast or sermon to listen to and hop on the treadmill. I’ve seen a lot of wonderful physical improvements in my body since consistently walking, but I’ve also spent a lot more time with God, which is the greatest benefit.
Taking a walk (especially if you live in a neighborhood) is a super easy way to move your body and allow God to move in you through prayer. I’ve also been walking in the evenings, which has been a great way to settle my heart and mind before bed. If you’ve never considered a prayer walk, I hope you will feel encouraged by my story and give it a try!
Christina Painter is a Jesus follower, youth pastor’s wife, and mom of two living in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. She is passionate about serving the global church through outreach and missions. She also has a heart for encouraging women in their walks with Christ. You can read more from Christina on her personal blog, The Byway or follow her on Instagram, @thebyway.
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