Spiritual Pilates

So I’ll start out with a candid confession: It’s been awhile since I’ve actually done my Pilates video. But I still feel a great affection for it, so I consider myself entitled to use it for an illustration.

One thing I love about Pilates is that it seems to produce instant results. No, it doesn’t make you instantly fit — but I swear that the day after a good Pilates workout I can tell a difference! Those muscles that felt so weak and shaky during the workout seem more firm, more confident. And it motivates me to do it again! Unlike my experiences with jogging, aerobics, or tae-bo (a nightmarish effort for clutzes like me), Pilates just feels like it is actually doing something! It provides a sense of change and accomplishment.

What in the world do my totally unscientific claims have to do with spiritual formation? The Greek word gumnazo is the word Paul used when he urged Timothy, “train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things” (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Gumnazo is the term from which we derive the word gymnasium — it is the training and effort of a good workout. It is, in a sense, “spiritual excercise.”

There are many avenues of spiritual growth, but my encouragement to you today is to key in on something that feels a bit like Pilates to you. In other words, when you’re in a busy, stressed out season of life, it may not be the best time to focus on a form of spiritual training that leaves you exhausted, unmotivated, discouraged, confused, more busy, or feeling empty. It’s OK to instead zero in on the practices that intrinsically motivate you to grow closer to Christ — those parts of the Christian life that are invigorating for you. These practices are different for all of us — they may be disciplines like worship, prayer, Scripture meditation, or fellowship.

It is vital to the Christian life to implement a range of Christian practices — not only those with which we feel the most comfortable. But there are times (like today for me) when God draws us to him through our affinity toward specific avenues of spiritural formation. For me today that’s journalling-prayer. What is it for you?

(And where in the world is that Pilates video anyway???)

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