Monday, May 30, 2011

1,000,000 Steps

My author cousin, Kara Baker, hosts a ministry blog called A Deeper Walk with God, and today, she begins a challenge to take one million physical steps in conjunction with taking purposeful spiritual steps toward closer fellowship with God.

I'd seen her promos in my Facebook news feed and had been to her site to check it out, but rather disconnectedly. Meanwhile, I'd been hearing sermons on prayer, desiring to pray, thinking about praying, and in some random cases, actually praying. (Shocking, I know.) One of the things I'd been praying about was praying more. "God, please help me pray more." And at one point, I even tacked on, "And please don't make it be through a big, fat trial. Please help me become a prayer warrior in a gentle way where it's mostly just something I start doing without having to freaking lose somebody to bring it about."

A sermon I heard on prayer a few weeks ago suggested that if I am the kind of person who needs a list when I go to the grocery store, I am the kind of person who needs a list when I pray. But prayer lists take time to pray through, and even with the list, my flighty brain meanders relentlessly if I'm just sitting there. Gotta move.

Last summer I trained to walk a half marathon, but two months prior to the race, my shoes gave out, I transitioned to a new phase of grief, and we fixed up our sorely neglected home and moved into it. I did walk in a couple of races as I trained, and I did walk more last summer than the rest of my life's exercise efforts combined, but overall, I felt discouraged about not making it to the half marathon. I resolved to train again in the spring.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I realized I'd better hurry and get started if I'm going to stay within my "spring" parameter. (According to the calendar, mind you, not the weather.) So at my request, Jeff mowed me a one-mile walking trail around our property. I intended to walk it every day starting the very next day, but the very next day, it rained cats and dogs and James was home with a fever.

My subconscious ponderings began to take conscious shape. "I need to pray every day. I want to walk every day. I need to pray every day. I want to walk every day."

I never was very good at equations.

On Saturday, a friend of mine came over and we walked my new walking trail together. We had such a lovely time, chatting and walking and enjoying nature, and I was inspired again to get out walking regularly.

Last night, during our church's class on the doctrines of grace, we examined the reasons we pray. More specifically, we examined what is the point of prayer if it doesn't change God's mind. I'm not going to talk about that here. But suffice it to say that God used our class discussion about prayer to cement the "why" for me, which in turn fostered a deeper desire to pray more.

When I got home from class, I read a reminder post from Kara in my Facebook news feed that she was starting her challenge today, and I went again to her site to read about it.

Kara said, "Since the theme of this site is ‘walking with God’ I thought that a walking challenge was more than appropriate! We can physically challenge ourselves on a walk, while spiritually challenging ourselves to ‘walk’ closer to Him.... The goal is to do something that is outside of the norm for you that would challenge you to either be deliberate in your steps or to give your body, mind and spirit a kick start to a new level."

She also gave practical suggestions for the spiritual side of the walking challenge. Number two on her list? "Pray while you walk."

AHA!! :)

Seriously. I had an actual AHA moment.

But God planned for me to figure it out at that moment. He's cool like that. The sermon on prayer, the prayers to pray more, the walking trail, walking the trail with my friend, the theology of prayer, and the challenge. In that order. I love the way He explains things to my heart.

So this morning we measured my stride, and it was determined that I will need to walk 404 miles to reach one million steps. Holy cow. If I can mirror my training schedule from last summer, this should take me roughly six months. Throw a race or two into the mix, and it's entirely possible that I could complete the challenge by Thanksgiving.

That's a lot of walking.

More importantly, that's a lot of praying.

And that's happy.