“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. Just like we go to the gym to build up our physical muscles, we need to spend time daily in prayer and meditation to build up our spiritual muscles.
I spent the majority of my life focusing on my physical health, with complete neglect to my spiritual health. A lesson I have learned over time is that I need to spend more time on my spiritual fitness than my physical fitness because that is truly what is important in life.
I have learned that having deep health in all areas of my life is the path that brings inner peace and joy. “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
Growing up my identity was as a football player. From the time I was a little kid, all I wanted to do was play professional football. I was consumed by it. The fateful day that changed the course of my life was on October, 4 1986.
I remember the play like it was yesterday. I played strong safety for the University of North Dakota. The running back was coming at me and at the last second he changed directions. I planted my right foot so I could quickly change directions to make the tackle. But unfortunately, a 280 pound offensive lineman fell directly on my knee as I was preparing to make the cut. My knee ended up at a 90 degree angle. I knew the second it happened my career was over.
The injury was the worst the orthopedic surgeon had ever seen. I tore three of my knee ligaments. I was devastated. My hopes and dreams of being a professional football player came to a crashing halt on that day. My goal went from being a professional football player to being able to walk normally again.
I was depressed and was searching for a new identity. I started lifting weights in the gym again after my knee healed. I was obsessed with getting as big and ripped as I possibly could without crossing the line of taking steroids.
My whole life revolved around bodybuilding. I worked out seven days a week for three hours at a time, sometimes throwing in a second or third workout when I could. I was all about being as physically fit as possible. There was no thought at the time about being spiritually fit.
It wasn’t until a tragedy struck in my life that I learned the importance of spiritual fitness. After 18 years of marriage and two beautiful children, my marriage came to an end. I became a statistic. I would have to check the box as someone who is divorced. My life as I knew it ended. The most important thing in my life, my family, was stripped away from me. I was devastated.
That is when I turned to God and realized my spiritual fitness was going to be the only thing that would heal me. Having six-pack abdominals wasn’t going to do it, but having a spiritual six-pack was the key to my healing and restoration.
Our physical health can be taken away at any moment, but our faith can give us the strength to deal with any tragedy we face. To train ourselves to have a strong faith, we must spend time every day working on getting a spiritual six-pack.
In order to get stronger in the gym you have to go consistently. It is no different when you are trying to develop a spiritual six-pack. The Biblical pattern for success has always been consistency.
Is your spiritual six-pack a little flabby? How about incorporating some prayer time into your day to firm up that spiritual six-pack? This regular prayer time is an opportunity to talk to God about what is on your mind and he will reveal himself to you during your quiet time with Him.
When you get a spiritual six-pack it will give you an increased appreciation for God, His will and His work in your life. You will experience life at its very best and a life of peace, joy and contentment.
Here is your training regimen for that ripped spiritual six-pack:
Spiritual Six-Pack Training Principle #1: Have quiet time with God every day.
This is a game changer. Ten minutes of quiet time every morning can literally transform your life. I started my morning ritual about seven years ago of setting aside about ten minutes a day of quiet time first thing in the morning. I was inspired to do this while going through the Bible study created by Pastor Rick Warren called,”40 days in the Word.” Seven years later I try to have my daily quiet time last anywhere from ten minutes to an hour.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
Spiritual Six-Pack Training Principle #2: Meditate every morning for at least 5 minutes.
Spending just 5 minutes every morning quieting the mind and spending it with Him in meditation assures that He will guide your thoughts throughout the day. We allow our mind to wander way too many times throughout the day. Meditation disciplines the mind. Meditation is time spent with God in silence and quiet listening.
Just as it takes time to build physical muscles, it takes time to develop spiritual muscles. Be patient with your meditation practice.
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8
Spiritual Six-Pack Training Principle #3: Have an attitude of gratitude.
It is easy to fall into the trap of taking things for granted and walk around depressed and sad. When we take time on a daily basis and reflect on all the things we are grateful for, it makes it easier to begin our day on a positive note. Scientific research shows that people who practice gratitude consistently report a myriad of benefits:
· Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
· Higher levels of positive emotions
· More joy, optimism, and happiness
· Acting with more generosity and compassion
· Feeling less lonely and isolated
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Spiritual Six-Pack Training Principle #4: Use motion as devotion.
According to a government study 80% of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of weekly exercise to maintain good health. There is some disconnect there because everyone knows that some form of regular exercise is good for them.
Exercise helps with weight control, reduces the risk of heart disease and some cancers while also providing mental health benefits. Physical inactivity can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. If everyone knows that exercise is good medicine and improves their quality of life, why are only 20% of Americans getting enough exercise?
I would like to propose a different attitude about exercise. If you think exercise is drudgery and painfully boring, of course you aren’t going to want to set your alarm clock for 5:30am and jump out of bed to go exercise. What if instead you thought of exercise as a form of motion as devotion? What if the time you spent exercising was an opportunity to draw closer to God?
So the next time you are thinking about exercising and the feeling of dread or drudgery comes over you, try to have a different perspective. Use the time to recite scripture, pray and just listen to what God has to say to you. You will be amazed how God can speak to you while you are in motion. Use your time in motion to give God your devotion.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19–20
Spiritual Six-Pack Training Principle #5: Renew your mind every day.
What you think has such a significant impact on your life and your health. When you transform your mind you transform your life. Dr. Caroline Leaf, the author of the book “Who Switched Off My Brain?” states that 75% of all illness is a direct result of our thoughts. The average person has somewhere around 30,000 thoughts per day. Thoughts can either be healing or destructive to us.
For many of you there is an ongoing battle in your mind. Until you get rid of your stinkin’ thinkin’ it is going to be very challenging to make the transformative changes in your life you desire. God’s promises are powerful if you renew your mind.
When you renew your mind, you will be transformed. Not just changed on the outside, but completely transformed on the inside too. When you get all of the noise out of your head, you can truly let the Word of God sink into your heart and have a better understanding of what God’s plan is for your life.
Ultimately, it is up to you to renew your mind. It is up to you what you think about. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” God did his part in giving us the power of the Holy Spirit. It is up to us to tap into that power.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
Spiritual Six-Pack Training Principle #6: Focus on deep health.
To get a spiritual six pack you have to be healthy in all areas of your life. You need to be balanced in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. When we are out of balance in any area of our life we will not be at our best.
Deep health comes from a balanced diet of real whole foods. It comes from getting an adequate amount of movement every day. It comes from getting enough sleep at night. It comes from living a life of purpose and loving God and loving others. When we live a life of deep health, we are in true alignment with who we are and who God created us to be.
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” 3 John 1:2
The fact is that when you develop your spiritual fitness you will develop a closer relationship to God. It will be easier to worship Him and to hear His voice.
Physical training is of some value and taking care of your body is imperative. But without strengthening your spiritual muscles you will not be living your life to the fullest. Will you put in the necessary sets and reps to get a spiritual six-pack? Will you put in the time to get rid of any spiritual flab you may have? When you make spiritual fitness your top priority your life will be transformed. Your mind, body and spirit will be stronger so you can serve Him longer.
Troy Ismir, MS
Author, Podcaster, Speaker and Spiritual Warrior Coach