World class Olympic athletes dedicate themselves to training before a major competition. In essence, training becomes their full-time job. For elite athletes, and even for folks like you and me who try to exercise regularly to stay healthy, cross-training is an important component for conditioning. Cross-training is any sport or exercise that supplements your main sport. For example, swimmers also lift weights to build muscle mass. Some football players take ballet lessons to improve their flexibility and agility. My son Will, who is a cross country runner for his high school, has a weekly training regime that includes long distance runs for endurance, sprints for cardio, ultimate Frisbee for making cardio training fun, and Pilates to increase core stability. I also try to exercise at least six days a week and trade off between dance aerobics classes, jogging, walking, biking and yoga. Cross-training helps balance your muscle groups, it builds up your cardiovascular fitness, it reduces your chance of injury, and most importantly for me, it avoids boredom by not doing the same workout over and over again.
In 1 Thessalonians 15: 16-18, the Apostle Paul tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” To me, this means that to grow deeper in our relationship with God and neighbor, we strive to dedicate ourselves to prayer each day, as much as we do our full-time jobs. Have you ever thought about what it might mean to cross-train in prayer? Have you ever wished that your prayer life was livelier and more spontaneous? We can avoid boredom in prayer by using varied forms of prayer, and like my son’s training program, we can even choose to pray in ways that are fun for us. In fact, everything can become a prayer if we focus on intention. Our activities can become prayers if we approach the activity with the intent of knowing God more fully and loving God more deeply. If you would like fresh and fun ideas to add “cross-training” into your prayer life, there are two books I recommend to get started:
–Praying with Body and Soul, by Jane E Vennard
—50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times by Teresa A. Blythe.
I hope that through these resources your life of prayer gains strength, flexibility, and endurance.
–Nancy Pauls, Pastor of Prayer