Nike used to have a catchy tag line to all of their advertising … ‘Just do it!’ It wove a basic truth about activity (that is we rarely feel like getting up and exercising, so need to ‘just do it’) with a product they want us to believe would make the activity enjoyable. It seems that the basic truth is now unnecessary for Nike and it can rely on the brand alone to sell its shoes. Yet for many of us the tag line remains as an echo whenever we spot a Nike shoe. I suspect that this is because of the reality that they hooked into. Exercise is hard – we need to simply resolve to do it – but (and here is the magical bit) once we get started we feel really good about it! Their shoes were sold because exercise actually makes us feel good when we ‘just do it!’
Like athletes some of us are natural pray-ers. Our spiritual muscles are tuned just right to pray easily and frequently. Many more of us are not so naturally attuned to the day-to-day application of prayer. Even if we acknowledge that it is good for us and at the heart of the Christian life.
This is where the Nike principle comes in. ‘Just do it!’ A forced start to get us moving will repay the effort and leave us grateful that we did the work. Just like the exercise. So for us non-natural pray-ers how can we ‘just do it?’ What is the equivalent to the pair of shoes that gets us out and at it? Can I suggest 3 tips:
- Use the ‘Diocesan Prayer Adventure’ bookmarks, but make sure that you place them in a spot that you will see! There is no point buying an expensive pair of running shoes if they stay in their box in the bottom of the cupboard. If you do not use book marks in your daily read, blu tac it to the bathroom mirror, or attach it to the fridge, or even tape it to the kitchen window at you eye height above the kitchen sink. The point is, keep it in front of your eyes each day … and when you see it pray!
- Identify the things (or people) you are praying for by name. It is much easier to begin an exercise if you are clear on what it is. Start with clear, distinct and specific prayer points. It means you can get to the point straight away rather than having to ‘pray your way into’ the task. It also means that you can stop without feeling guilty – you have done what you set out to do. I suspect that other things will begin to occur to you that will add to the prayers – but start specific.
- Do a little bit often. In other words don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Just like exercise the way to grow in our praying capacity is to ‘get off the couch’ and do something even if it is not the equivalent of praying a marathon straight up. Five 2-minute prayers each day sounds much more achievable to me that 10 minutes of solid intercession. I know I can concentrate for 2 minutes (even if 10 might be hard).
Our spiritual health relies on how well we rest on God, so ‘just do it!’