A Work-Out for the Soul
As physical exercise benefits the physical body, so does spiritual exercise benefit our real being — the part created in the image and likeness of God.
First let’s define who we are. We are a spirit, clothed in a body, and possessing a soul. Spirit is the deepest, most intricate part of who we are. This is the part that allows us to understand who we are, why we are here, and the purpose attached to our being here.
As spirit-beings, we go beyond reasoning. This is the part of us that experiences God in action. This is the part of us that experiences “life” more abundantly. This is where hope is born and expectations come alive. This is who we are, and, if allowed, will be directed by the Holy Spirit.
In a previous article on mental exercise I focused on the acquisition of knowledge. However, here our focus is all about a state of being. Knowledge is only a part of seeking for a quality of being.
We have become so sense-oriented that we allow our five senses to control who we really are. Therefore, we are more in touch with our physical thoughts, feelings and emotions than we are with our true selves.
However, St Paul tells us: “Physical exercise is useful enough, but the usefulness of religion or godliness [meaning spiritual training] is unlimited, since it holds out promise both for life here and now and for the life to come; that is a saying that you can rely on and nobody should doubt it” (I Tim 4:8-9).
Benefits of Spiritual Exercise
Our inner wellbeing greatly affects everything that transpires in our mental and physical realms. When we have done proper spiritual exercise we have a greater sense of peace.
Paul solidifies that we will have “the peace of God, which passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7). Spiritual exercise puts us so in tune with our God-nature that it resonates on the outside.
When we exercise physically it helps us to shed weight in pounds and inches. It helps us to have a more healthy physical heart. When we flex our spiritual heart muscles, it builds up our resistance to fight daily battles in the spirit realm. We will be stronger in handling daily challenges.
Spiritual exercise helps us lose the weight of sinful thinking, sinful motives and sinful actions.
Start With Prayer
And how do we do these spiritual exercises? I would suggest that prayer is one of the most important aspects of spiritual exercise.
As a general rule, when we think of prayer it is our own laundry list of things we want, or want God to do for us. We often pray by telling God what to do. In this exercise of prayer, however, we want to listen to the voice of God as he tells us what he wants us to do. I call it “active” listening.
Isaiah says: “Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple’s tongue, for me to know how to give a word of comfort to the weary. Morning by morning he makes my ear alert to listen like a disciple” (50:4).
We can find any answers about life and life eternal if we are listening for and to the voice of God, “like a disciple”.
Prayer is one of the most important lifelines we have between who we are and who God is.