“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV)
For most of my life I exercised, since it was mandatory. As a golfer in high school and part of college, I was required to participate in workouts. Every other day I would wake up too early for comfort and lift weights and run.
Once I quit the golf team in college, I stopped being active. And then I got married. And now I work out on the rarest of occasion–that occasion being when my dog gets out of the fence and I have to go chase him down.
Physical exercise is good, of course. Exercising keeps you in shape for the most part. However, godly exercise matters more. It is far more important. Training our physical bodies is good; training ourselves for godliness is of more value.
With that said, we know how to train our physical bodies. But how do we exercise for godliness? That’s what I want to tackle in this blog by talking about three ways we can do so.
“True prayer,” John Calvin said, “should pour out the whole soul and every inward feeling before him.” To Calvin, prayer should involve the Christian’s whole being. Elsewhere he says prayer should be as easy as breathing. He is right.
It is impossible for Christians to “train in godliness” if we are not praying. A prayerless Christian is an unbalanced Christian. Prayer, in its simplest form, is talking to God. We talk to God in prayer and God talks to us in the Bible. It’s how we have a conversation with Him. Prayer, however, is not for God’s sake, as is easy to think. More than anything, prayer is for the Christian. It strengthens, encourages, convicts, and humbles.
To some Christians prayer is very easy; to many others it is supremely difficult. Each Christian is different. Regardless, the value and necessity of prayer remains the same. It becomes difficult to be spiritually strong when we are neglecting prayer.
I, myself, struggle with prayer. Sometimes I get to the end of the day and realize I have prayed very little or, even worse, not at all. If prayer is not natural to you, ask God for intentionality. It’s ironic, of course, but to be better in praying you must . . . pray. But you also must read.
Reading the Bible
God has spoken to us. You don’t need to wait for a funny feeling or conjure up some image in your mind of God speaking to you. He has spoken in His Word–His perfect, free-from-error Word.
Many Christians also struggle with reading Scripture. Whether it be casually reading the Bible on your lunch break or digging into the depths of Scripture for hours–just like the necessity of prayer–reading the Bible is equally important. You need it, Christian.
There are many reasons why we struggle to read Scripture. One of the biggest is intimidation. Many times we read the Bible and come away confused. That’s natural. However, we shouldn’t stop reading Scripture merely because it’s difficult to understand. It means we should pray for the capacity to understand.
Prayer and Bible reading are extremely important, but they both revolve around the biggest thing, per se.
Worship is valuing and treasuring God above all things. We have to understand that worship isn’t restricted to Sunday service. I hope we know this. Worship is every day. We are to worship on every day that ends with day.
Do we know that worship is not designated to a specific task? We are to worship in all things! We worship by our vocation and also by how we treat our spouse. We worship by how we raise our children and how we thank God for a glass of water. All the time. Every day. In all things.
It’s important to be intentional in our worship. Thank God every day for what you have — not just on Thanksgiving. In worship we are exercising spiritually and, in turn, we become more godly. Obviously, we also worship God through prayer and Bible reading, so we must understand all of this is connected.
Just as an athelete must train for the Olympics, so must the Christian train for Heaven. Not that we train for Heaven to obtain it — we know we’ve been saved be the sovereign grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) — but we train for Heaven as the end result of what we’ve already obtained: salvation.
Is it your desire to become more like Jesus (Romans 8:29)? Do you want to be a holier Christian? Then you must train! You must put in the work to spiritually exercise your faith–in short, you must “train for godliness.”