Can You Connect with God on the Run?

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

My colleague, Tim Mitchinson of Illinois, has a blog on running and its benefits. I know people here in Southern California will benefit from these ideas – ideas that can be expressed whether on a run or walk!

It’s spring, and the runners (and walkers) are out in droves.

According to The Runner’s Guide, “There are a number of different benefits which an individual can gain from running on a regular basis. There are some runners who run simply for the joy of running but there are others who run because they realize there are a great deal of benefits which can be gained from rigorous exercise such as running. Some of these benefits may include weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, improved bone health, improved mood and better coordination.”

Wikihow gives tips on being a good runner, which include the following:

  • Motivate yourself
  • Run consistently
  • Do other work-outs that will help
  • Set new challenges for yourself
  • Ask other runners for advice
  • Join a sports club or running team
  • Hang out with other runners
  • Don’t give up!

Recently I read the experience of Rev. Theresa Cho.  “It may sound funny for a pastor to say,” she admitted, “but a little over a year ago, I had a hard time praying.”  She still believed in God, but had doubts about whether she was doing with her life what God wanted her to do.  She couldn’t find the words to ask for guidance.  She remembered her high school years, and how she found running as a way to get through her problems.

So now, to Rev. Cho, praying sometimes means leaving her church, putting on her sneakers, and going for a run.

She doesn’t listen to music when she runs.  Instead, she commented, “I run and hear what’s around me.  I let thoughts go into my mind, and I lift up some in prayer.  It’s been a way of rediscovering how to connect with God.”

Actually, many individuals find the quiet and solitude which comes when running or walking, gives them the opportunity to pray.  It gives them a time to think more clearly and deeply about the issues in their lives.  The tips given to be a good runner are actually also good for increasing one’s ability to pray.  Let’s take another look at them:

  • Motivate yourself – realize that prayer has many benefits, and your prayers will be answered.
  • Run consistently – pray every day.
  • Do other work-outs that will help – include reading sacred texts, singing spiritual songs and helping others in your prayer-routine.
  • Set new challenges for yourself – live consistently with your prayer.
  • Ask other runners for advice – discover how others pray.
  • Join a sports club or running team – locate a church or place of worship.
  • Hang out with other runners – find other people who pray.
  • Don’t give up!

The Bible states, “…let us run with patience the race that is set before us,…” (Hebrews 12: 1).  The Interpreter’s Bible states about this passage, “Men begin in joyous devotion.  But the early vision fades; the race is long; obstacles block the way; we notice the diversions at the side; and the race slows to a walk, then to a careless saunter.  Paul complained of the Galatians, ‘You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?’ (Gal. 5:7).  The call to perseverance is the only valid call to be a person.  Without a goal toward which we bend every energy, we become mere meeting places of the forces that play upon us, not persons at all.”

To all the runners (and walkers) out there – keep at it, and include prayer in your work-outs.  The lessons that make you a good athlete will benefit your spirituality also.

Link to Tom’s blog

About the author

Guest We are pleased to present Notes from the Field authors, who are assistant committees and church members in the Southern California region; and Notes from The Mother Church authors, who are Committees from the United States and around the world, as well as the Federal Committee on Publication office.

Comments

  1. Molly Byers says

    Tom, I found your comments quite interesting, particularly because I am not a runner, at least in the traditional setting you are speaking about. However, I am a person on-the-go
    and have found the ability to pray on-the-run of huge benefit. When time is not in favor of praying, I’ve found this going to God, declaring the goodness, the absolute control, the tender loving care which never goes away, the forever Allness of this His/Her Being to be of great value. It takes less than a minute to declare, but reaps benefits all day long. It’s much like living in a giant bubble that we can’t get out of. It has replaced stress with calm assurance, replaced condemnation of self with gratitude for an
    unending love, and filled me with joy, knowing God is handling everything. Thanks for the universality of your comments.

    • sue says

      Thank you for a refreshing outlook on how to run, walk, move and go forward and finding the added benefit of connecting with spiritual ideas in those activities. I loved the ” tips given to be a good runner are actually also good for increasing one’s ability to pray. ” I have found this to be true in my experience too. My career as a middle school physical education teacher was always active and I learned to pray and look for inspiration during my day and in working with my students while running, walking & exercising. This still continues in my life now as a golfer, walker and active person. Every action is better when we are reasoning from a basis of kindness, consideration and seeing the good in one another.

  2. Anne Hughes says

    Two of my teenage children were runners, and one became a triathlete in university. Their dad had passed on, and I was looking for “all things new.” Girls were not encouraged to run as I grew up, and I thought maybe I couldn’t run, but it looked like fun. My children encouraged me to start slowly and not to try to run like anyone else. So at first I ran between two light posts on a nearby bridge, then walked between the next two, ran, then walked, until I could run the whole way without stopping. Occasionally I ran with others, but mostly just on my own on different paths around the neighborhood. I did a few 5K races, including one down Yonge Street in Toronto to a park, along with one of my daughters, who was pushing her son in a running stroller. Then it was a few super-sprint triathlons and a 5K in Hawaii. I found that I could run to the Glory of God, and it was pure joy. Now I swim to the glory of God. You can do ANYTHING to the Glory of God!

  3. Anne says

    I loved Anne Hughes’ story. Congratulations on all those impressive runs!

    I’m a walker. I use this time to commune with nature and to pray about the day and also about my life. I liked the ideas in this blog of being consistent and persevering, especially if you feel like slacking a bit. It is the prayer time that keeps me motivated, and I always return home feeling refreshed and inspired. I would definitely recommend meditating while running or walking. It clears the cobwebs away.

    Thank you for this post.

  4. Anne says

    Years ago when I struggled to get time to pray I started getting up an hour earlier to walk before work so that I could be away from the pressures of household duties. This time was wonderful and many times during this precious time for prayer a challenge at work was solved, the solution would simply spring to mind even though I wasn’t even thinking about it.
    A number of years later I could see how I had made much growth spiritually. I was more buoyant, confident and humble.
    I can highly recommend “praying on the run”, or on the walk.

  5. WendyR says

    I’m a runner, and I’ve often found that the time on my feet is a great time for prayer. I remember getting great inspiration for lesson plans on runs while working towards a teaching credential. A run the morning of my wedding day was a perfect opportunity to express gratitude for all the joy I’d been experiencing and all the adventures yet to come. Recently, while working through a persistent suggestion of a cold, I went for long walks and listened to lectures from ChristianScience.com and got so many comforting and heartening ideas. I could go on and on! Thanks for the reminder of how much there is to love about “[running] with God along the way.” This is great motivation to get out the door today.