Friday, January 11, 2019

Praying for Strength

So, I was telling you about the journey of baby steps I have been on toward five-minute planks...
One question I frequently hear when talking to someone about this feat is, "What do you do all that time???" And I have to tell you, the what do I do portion of this journey has been the greatest of blessings - which I did not anticipate when it all started.
In the beginning, I would get myself situated on the floor with my phone in front of me and the stop-watch app going. To keep from staring at the time (and agonizing over how much of it was left!) I would close my eyes and recite the lyrics to hymns or praise songs. And that worked well when I was holding planks for up to 90 seconds. But much longer and my mind was going elsewhere, while my eyes were staring at the stop-watch.
So I started praying when I was planking.
And I discovered something wonderful.
Whereas the lyric recitation had been intended to serve as a mere distaction, my plank prayers were so much more. The longer the planks became, the greater the physical challenge got for me - the more earnest and passionate were the prayers which flowed from my heart. When you know someone is struggling with a trial, when there is a desperate need for endurance, when somebody is on the edge of giving up - and you're praying for them and asking God to give them the strength and grace they need for their situation - while simultaneously fighting for the strength (and asking God for it!) to hold a physical move, believe me! Your prayers take on a whole new level of urgency.
And when you fall to the floor after hitting your goal, thanking God for holding you through the moments you thought you were going to collapse - but realizing you didn't - your belief that He will similarly hold the ones for whom you have just been praying increases exponentially.
The thing is, I don't think God is any nearer to me when I pray during a plank than when I'm praying any other time. I don't think He's listening more or with greater compassion while I'm planking. He certainly isn't more "good" or more "faithful" or different in any other way.
But somehow, when I plank and pray, I feel nearer to Him. I feel like I am more a part of the battle - more of a participant in fighting for the ones for whom I am praying. More invested in the outcome.
Though God isn't different, I think I am.
It seems to me there is something about my physical act of struggling as I pray for those who are also struggling in physical or spiritual ways which brings me closer to the battle. Because of the physical, my spirit is more aware of the fight. I won't pretend to understand the link between our physical and spiritual worlds, but let me tell you - I know it is there. And I understand now that as I pray while I plank - asking God to strengthen those who are in the midst of battles - I join with the heavenly armies.
What an honor it is to fight with them!


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