Pride, Prayer, and Cardio
We pray for our food, when we attend church, and throughout our day; but when was the last time you prayed while you were slaying yourself during a workout? I found myself praying when I started my workout with a run the other day. I wasn’t praying so that the dreaded cardio would be over, which I have definitely done before, instead it was so that God would humble me and protect me from my own narcism.
I had never considered praying during a workout before that days run on the treadmill. God put it on my heart to pray after I noticed that the guy next to me was not running as fast as I was. I immediately took on a condescending attitude and felt that I was superior to him. What I was not thinking of was what Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
I do not want to workout to look better or get bigger in order to gain other people’s admiration. I do not want to run so others can compliment me on my physical endurance. These should not be the reasons for my temporary physical pain. However, to my shame, those are often the driving factors and motivation for me to push myself in the gym. My selfishness and conceit want others to be impressed by my abilities so I can say, ‘yes, look how good I am.’ My sinful desires long for others to praise me.
While running on the treadmill I was able to distract myself from the depth of my arrogance for a moment. I first consoled myself thinking I wasn’t THAT bad for having those thoughts of elation when I bested someone. Then I reasoned that I just want to workout for the benefit of the Marines I will lead in the future. After all, I do want to be in the best shape for my Marines so I can aptly lead them in austere environments. While this is not a bad motivation in and of itself, I started to pull back the layers of my personal justification and found that the true motivation would be so my Marines would admire and praise me for my abilities. The thin-layered facade of me wanting to better myself for the benefit of others fell away when my true desires were revealed.
Whatever abilities I have, God gave them to me. I have never prayed on a treadmill before, but God graciously reminded me during my prideful moment to Him be the glory. We are called to take up the sword of the spirit in Ephesians 6:18, “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all saints,..” Training hard is what we must do and our profession requires it. However, as we train for war, combat, or other trials that lay ahead, we must not forget where our strength comes from. The minute that we begin to rely on our own strength rather than God’s is the moment we truly become weak.