With the new year and decade off to a chaotic start, here are four “Godly exercises” that can help reduce stress but don’t require working out. Instead, you exercise your mind and soul with thinking beyond yourself – beyond the world, into the heavenly realm, and back down again with a new perspective.
Now, let’s get real. Any talk of “God” can be threatening, especially if you are not a churchgoer — and part of a growing trend. According to the Pew Research Center, church attendance and Christianity is on the decline in the U.S — especially among the largest population group known as Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996.
Alternatively, instead of participating in any traditional Judeo/Christian religion, characterizing oneself as “spiritual” is popular, non-threatening, and culturally acceptable. Subsequently, if “spiritual” means that you believe in a universal power greater than yourself — or not sure exactly what you believe, but like the moniker — you are cordially invited to begin “exercising.”
Finding God in Mother Nature
Truthfully, I despise the term “Mother Nature.” Surely it was invented by atheists reluctant to acknowledge that nature is God’s handiwork. Therefore, let’s state the obvious: “Nature is God and God is Nature.” More specifically, God’s awesomeness is continuously on display. For example, when I see the sun rise out of the ocean with the most magnificent color pallet, I am left with only one thought, “Praise Be To God.”
Finding God in nature is obvious because He is everywhere. Thus, the next time you are surrounded by mountains; forest; in the sky; on the ocean or scuba-diving under; watching the sunrise or set; gazing at the moon and the stars —looking at anything not made by man — concentrate on feeling His presence. Talk to him. Seriously, it’s as elementary as, “Hi God, thanks for creating this beautiful scene.”
Conversely, if you don’t believe He is the Creator, be bold enough to tell Him. (He might “answer” you in a profound way, so be prepared.) If you are interested in reading what the Bible says about God in nature, here is a link to 100 short passages.
Thanking God for nature brings us to exercise No. 2:
Thanking Him in General
Thanking God for the many blessings in your life is easy, and He appreciates it. All you have to say is, “Thank you, Lord, for (fill in the blank).” However, you should say it often, humbly, and with the utmost sincerity.
The “One” with the most awesome power expects you to thank Him. He wants you to acknowledge Him. He never gets tired of you thanking Him for the people you love in addition to all the gifts, talents, success, financial resources, and good health that you might take for granted because life is fragile — and you never know what tomorrow will bring. Then, when days turn dark, I firmly believe that adverse occurrences are also from God. He utilizes both good and bad to advance, sharpen and often “break” us so that He can use us for His greater glory. But granted, understanding tragedy in one's life is very difficult, and people often grow closer to Him during those times.
One of my favorite and famous Bible passages addresses that topic with “all things” as the operative phrase: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
If the concept of thanking God resonates with you, here are 100 Bible passages you might enjoy browsing.
Seeking Him/Asking Him
Our third exercise invokes a concept that has preoccupied great religious and scholarly minds for centuries — and to this day. For the record, I am neither a great religious or scholarly mind. However, through my faith journey from Judaism by birth, to Christianity at age 20 – I know the following is true: God is around 24/7. He is eternal. He is always there for you. The problem is you don’t think He is, or you don’t think about Him at all.
The beauty of this exercise is that you can practice it anywhere, at any time. Seek God in your mind and heart. Ask Him into your life. Ask Him a question about an issue that is troubling you. It’s called prayer. But if that word sounds too “religious,” call this exercise a “conversation with God.”
God is not confined within the walls of a church. (Although that is always a good place to find Him.) Seeking Him is like opening a window, but you must first do the opening.
Here is a popular Bible passage on this topic: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
Are you motivated to seek and ask? Check out these Bible verses for inspiration.
Praising and Glorifying Him
Our last exercise encompasses all of the above. After you “practice” finding God in nature, thanking Him, seeking and asking Him — the more compelled you will be to praise and glorify Him in your life with words and deeds. That is because He will make His presence known to you. I have no idea how or when, only that He will.
Once again, here are Bible passages to assist you with praising and glorifying God.
Finally, it is important to note that for the purpose of these exercises, you can either contemplate God or Jesus. I will leave identity in HIS hands.