Faithbit: Track Your Spiritual Fitness

I was on the treadmill when it happened.

I wasn’t always a physically active person. I was one of those kids that endured gym class and never bothered with team sports. I loved sweets of all sorts (and still do). And I was always a bit on the chubby side—at least for as long as I can remember. My body image issues don’t let me remember a time when I was completely happy with the way I looked. What I do know is this: on a summer’s day in 2009, I stepped on my scale to convince a disheartened friend that I was the heavier one. And when I saw the number on that scale, I knew things had to change.

I lost 60 pounds. It can sound severe, but I assure you it was a “two steps forward, one step back” process. There is no secret to losing weight: Exercise more and eat healthy with controlled portion sizes. As long as a person is consistently burning more calories than they consume (and they don’t have weight-related medical issues), they will lose weight.

In order to help me estimate how many calories I was actually burning while exercising, I used a heart rate monitor watch. The first watch was a clunky, ugly monster that made me look like I was under house arrest. In order to take my heart rate, I had to place the index finger and thumb of my opposite hand on its two metal sensors. I would wait for it to sense my pulse. Sometimes I would continue to wait. Sometimes I would theorize that the lack of pulse meant I had died and simply not realized it. The next watch was the same brand, with the same metal sensors, but a “petite” design which fit me better.

At some point I fell away from using it. I think it had to do with getting into sports where I couldn’t stop and put fingers on my watch every 3-5 minutes—sports like Muay Thai and Jiu-jitsu. But lately, as the scale creeps back up, I find myself back to my old calorie counting ways.

But now, I have joined the fitness tracker movement.

The same company that made my beloved watches now makes a fitness tracker wristband that will monitor my heart rate constantly during exercise. And with a daily goal programmed into it, watching the goal bar slowly fill up throughout the day is motivating.

And so, I was on the treadmill one recent morning when I got to thinking about my beloved tracker. And about exercise. And about the amount of time and energy I used—and still currently use—to think about my body image. And I thought to myself, “What if I invested that amount of time and energy into my prayer life? How strong would my relationship with God become?”

What if I was using a prayer tracker instead of a fitness tracker?

The health benefits of prayer are undeniable. Prayer alleviates anxiety (Philippians 4:6); it’s appropriate for all occasions (James 5:13); it’s a natural part of being a disciple (Acts 2:42; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonian 5:17); and it was modelled by Jesus—the Great Physician himself (John 17:1-26).

Prayer-Tracker

And so, I suggest an experiment.

  • Choose a length of time: One day, one week, or one month.
  • Set a daily goal: 15 min., 30 min., or one hour.
  • Each day make yourself a paper/cardstock bracelet.
  • Every time you pray, write on the bracelet how long you prayed for (you can even make yourself a little progress bar and colour it in as you go).
  • Try to achieve your daily goal.
  • You are invited to call your fancy bracelet a Faithbit.
  • Find some friends who are cool enough to also make Faithbits and motivate each other! (Bonus: when people ask you what you’re wearing on your wrist, you get a free evangelism opportunity.)

I’m not quite at the point yet where I am logging just as much prayer as physical activity, but I’m getting there. I’ve already backed away from a couple of my sports commitments in order to make time with God a higher priority. And the more time I spend with God, the more I’m realizing this: How I look matters so much less than who I am in Christ.

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Isaiah 61:10 (NRSV)

Grace and Peace, Susan Mattinson

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7 thoughts on “Faithbit: Track Your Spiritual Fitness

  • January 20, 2016 at 2:49 pm
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    Great thoughts Susan, thank you!

    Reply
  • January 22, 2016 at 5:52 am
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    Hi Susan,
    Loved this devotional write up! Great job and great idea! Blessings to you today.

    Reply
  • January 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm
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    That is so true, Susan. We don’t think about our spiritual fitness (as measured by our prayer life) as much as we think about our physical fitness. It makes me wonder where our priorities are. I think your idea of the prayer fitness bracelet is a good idea – it would be one way of measuring that which is not easy to measure, or at least it can serve as a reminder that our prayer life is important for our well-being.

    Reply
    • January 23, 2016 at 9:53 pm
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      Thanks, Sarah Kim. And it’s certainly easier to write it than to live it! I find I have to keep reflecting on my priorities in order to stay on track–whether that’s physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual health.

      Reply
  • March 14, 2016 at 11:17 pm
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    Good comments, Rev Susan. Loved your Prayer Workshop last Saturday. I like the idea of a “faithbit” ……. Will give it a try.
    Blessings, Linda

    Reply

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