Spiritual Gymnastics

By Mike Shortspiritual gymnastics

“All you have to do is fight valiantly, and never throw down your arms, nor flee, no matter how many wounds you may have sustained.” – Lorenzo Scupoli.

I was recently relaxing in front of a crackling fire when my six-year-old daughter scrambled into the living room and caught my attention. “Watch me, Daddy” she said excitedly as she threw her arms up in the air and shifted her weight to her back leg.

With a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye she shifted her weight back to her front leg and dove towards the ground, placing her hands down in order to land a cart wheel. I watched in delight as her feet left the ground and suspended in air momentarily before she came back down in the same spot.

With another smile, she said, “wait, wait, Daddy… watch me! I watched as she tried again and again with the same result. With her childlike joy and innocent determination, she never gave up.

While I watched her Our Lord provided me with this image of how God encounters us in prayer. As we attempt to come to know Him, often by fumbling through prayers, He sits close by, listening intently to His beloved sons and daughters with delight.

You see, before my daughter had the core strength and upper body conditioning to hold herself up, I watched for months as she would rise just a few inches and crumple to the ground. She would get up over and over with the same eager request “wait, wait, Daddy… watch me.”

Spiritual Life Progression

The spiritual life has a progression as well, but it has infinite depth rather than finite height. We usually begin by reciting rote prayers, but often run into times of dryness and wonder, “is he watching?”  He’s always watching and never tires of hearing us recite them. Just like you never tire of hearing your daughter or son tell you “I love you, daddy”.

I had watched as my daughter progressed quickly over a short time and I was ready to step in at the right moment to spot her and hold her feet so that she could experience the feeling of being completely inverted with no danger of getting hurt.

As we progress in the spiritual life, we gain strength and understanding in how to encounter Him in prayer and our friendship matures as we spend more time with Him. Even though we may wonder if we have His attention, He’s waiting to step in at the right time to show us that we’re capable of doing something that we thought was impossible just a short time ago.

Why is Prayer So Hard?

So why is starting a prayer life so difficult? I think it’s because we’re comfortable and get bored easily. Most of us have bought into what our secular culture holds out for us regarding religion… that it’s a nice idea for your private life but is really irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. There’s nothing to see here. These sentiments are in the air we breathe.

But if we contemplate the life of Christ, we see that He was surrounded by sinners, beggars, prostitutes and tax collectors. These people sought as much satisfaction as they could find from everything that the world offered; money, sex, and power.

They were people that had experienced fleeting gratification, but still, bored easily. None of it satisfied their deepest desires. But Jesus was not boring. His personality was magnanimous, He was powerful beyond words, and when they encountered Him they dropped everything and completely changed directions.

This very same Jesus is seeking a friendship with you and me… by name. “I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

No matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, He’s constantly seeking an encounter with us. So now is the time to consider how much time we’re spending fostering this relationship with Jesus. And when we wonder if He’s watching, let us spend a little extra time each day with Him and expect an answer.

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2 thoughts on “Spiritual Gymnastics

  1. Great article! You guys have motivated me to finally get off my butt and start to focus on what’s important. Over the years I’ve grown lazy with my prayer life and especially with working out and taking care of myself.

  2. Great article and a lesson for all. It’s hard sometimes to be still listen and expect an answer

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