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Grace Defined

"For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, so no man can boast." --Ephesians 2:8-9

Read: Ephesians 2

How much work does it take to transform your health? If you asked a hard-gainer how much work it takes to add muscle, they'd tell you it's pretty tough. Or ask someone who's struggled their entire life to maintain a healthy weight and you may get a similar response. We need help. We get educated, seek council, take cooking classes, hire trainers, study video. And we're not even discussing unforeseen illnesses, or even problems with immodesty or pride. Whether it's for motivation, specific guidelines, disease control or humility, we need assistance in our effort of Godly, physical stewardship.

So with our focus on grace this week, I decided to look it up. Webster defines grace as "Divine assistance given for sanctification." Now, if you think about how much help we need when it comes to health, how much assistance do you think we need when it comes to Heaven? A little? A lot? A lot, alot? That's why Webster's take on grace falls short, doesn't it? Did you catch it the first time? Assistance, right? So while I was at it, I looked that up too. To define assistance, Webster uses synonyms like "a boost, helping hand, a leg up." Makes sense to the world. We do our share of the work, and God does His. We try our best, but when our best isn't good enough for Heaven, He gives our souls a boost.

But grace is more than what Webster might call a hearty helping of chicken soup for the soul. No, our souls need more than help. In fact, we don't need help, we need Him. If grace were just a boost on God's part, then you and I could boast in our works. His share. Our share. But we don't share. Health is never earned. What would ever make us think grace could be?

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT DEVOTIONS ON AUDIO

Are you a fan of the PrayFit Daily devotions? Were you aware that many of our best devos are now on audio? Click here to give a listen to a selection of inspirational entries from PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña.

>> THE PRAYFIT MINUTE: LISTEN

BRING PRAYFIT TO YOUR CHURCH

Jimmy Peña's message of health as a means of praise is being well-received by congregations around the country. His storytelling approach to how a healthy body can strengthen the body of Christ and inspire abundant living is a message you don't want to miss. For speaking appearances, ministry assistance, media inquiries, write us at info@prayfit.com. Share this information with pastors, elders and influencers with the knowledge that there is never a speaking fee for churches!

Uphill Battles

"Carry each other's burdens." --Galatians 6:2

Read: Galatians 6

>> AUDIO: Click here to listen to Jimmy read today's entry. [audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/PrayfitAudio/Uphill+Battles.mp3]

Uphill battles. If anyone understood the phrase, Simon did. Simon of Cyrene was of course the man who helped Jesus carry the cross up the hill toward Calvary. In one moment, a bystander. The next, a cross bearer. He did literally what you and I are called to do figuratively. Little did he know the example he was setting. I wonder if he knew his sin would soon be nailed to the tree he carried.

Uphill battles. If anyone understood the phrase, Jesus did. Yet Jesus knew that what He faced, He had to face alone. Nobody on earth, above or below, could take His place as He took ours. But the thought of you and me facing our days without hope was enough to kill Him. The weight of the cross and our helplessness were more than He could bear.

Simon, Jesus. Two men, one cross and an uphill battle.

--Jimmy Peña

EATING IN BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS

So what's our new book about anyway? The PrayFit Diet, available in stores now, can help you feel your best, not by starving you or cutting out carbs but by showing you how to eat in balance. Perfectly proportioned meal planning that improves vitality while keeping you fulfilled! This faith-filled manual is fortified by real science demonstrating that when all three macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) are eaten in equal caloric ratios, magic happens. Inflammation is reduced, energy improves, other health markers improve. You have enough energy from carbs to power through workouts, enough protein to support muscle repair and retention and enough healthy fat to cushion joints, improve heart health and support brain function. Taken in total, this can help you become a better steward of your physical health! If any (or all) of this sounds like something that you or a loved one can benefit from, grab a copy or two today by clicking here.

Great Pretenders

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness.'" --Matthew 25:21

Read: Matthew 25

This last week marked the end of "awards season" here in Los Angeles, including the Golden Globes, the SAGs, People's Choice and of course the Oscars. Many of these special shows have their own version of a Lifetime Achievement Award, where a peer is recognized and celebrated for just what the title suggests -- a lifelong body of work and the ultimate achievement in show business. What's interesting is that this person is someone who has dedicated their lives to either pretending to be someone he or she isn't or helping others do the same. Great pretenders. 

And when they make their way to the stage, they're greeted with a long embrace from a worthy peer and a standing ovation which seems to last forever. And while there are usually dozens of roles they've played, there's usually one for which they're most remembered.

As believers, we don't earn our reward, we follow Him. Fact is, if someone were to roll tape of our greatest hits and most celebrated performances, they'd all have one main character: Jesus. There's nothing good in us, but Him. And if we act as if there is, we're not only pretending for others but we're fooling ourselves. And make no mistake, when our life is through and He welcomes us home with a lifetime achievement embrace, there will be applause that lasts forever...from us.

--Jimmy Peña

TRUTH: When it comes to our lives as believers, we don't want to pretend. Authentic Christianity is one of our utmost objectives, amen? Sharing Christ, living abundantly, modestly and humbly, working to spread the Gospel each day. Let's have a good week. Be blessed.

READ + LISTEN

If you're looking for additional inspiration, you can listen to PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña reading through an exclusive selection of devotionals right here on the site. So if you have a few additional moments, click here, open your ears and your heart and give a listen. Or, click below for one of our faves.

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/PrayfitAudio/Marching+Orders.mp3]

Marching Orders

A Prayer: I Need To See You Move

"I need to see you move. I need to see your hand. I'm trying to live by faith. I don't know if I can. But I know you've not changed. There's nothing you can't do. I've done all that I can. I need to see you move."--Newsong

Dear Lord, like it says in the chorus of this song, so many of us reading this sentence (and the one writing it) need to see you move. From ailing health to crippling financial situations, may the position of our necks mirror that of Abraham during doubt, David during despair and Moses during fear. We know that it's not only during crisis that you want us to look to you, but we're comforted to know that we can. We just need you.

Tonight Lord, may the flame that ignites the opening ceremony of the Olympic games remind us that it takes discipline to create a destiny of excellence. And even if just for a moment, let it also remind us Lord that because of the cross, we've won a reward we didn't train for, work for, or ever deserve. May you prevent our pride from blinding us to the truth that our hearts and minds are not medal-worthy. Our thoughts and actions don't deserve a podium's praise. But by your grace, your face is all you see in us. Therefore, may it be your perfect performance we get lost in. May we be mesmerized by your relentless love. Give us the resolve to realize that life is a vapor-quick gift -- a vanishing moment that's here today and gone tomorrow. Help us gather for ourselves the mind of Paul that our chance at life is our chance to show the world that we live not to hoist a medal but to wear a crown. (2 Tim 4:8)

And Lord, while we need to see you move, may that same desperate plea echo inside our hearts as something you're saying to us each day. Help us respond in obedience and out of love. Like the shepherds who ran when you were born, you're still our good news. Like an unborn John, your presence still makes us jump for joy. And like David may we dance to a rhythm that only a life spent serving you can provide.

It's so true Lord. You alone satisfy. And so -- much like it satisfied the men and women who fill the pages of your Word -- seeing you move is all we need. And may you be pleased with our response when you lovingly and sovereignly ask the same of us. Thank you for another week. Any health is only possible through you, and any health we'll use to glorify you. In Jesus' name and for His sake, Amen.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion (and a request): What went well this week? Any victories to report? Praises to lift? Let's celebrate and give God the glory together. Any prayer requests? What's on your hearts and minds? And personally, please pray for me and Loretta. For a few weeks, we've been in daily meetings and discussions on PrayFit-related projects and dreams, and we covet your prayers. We just want to please Him. His renown is all we want. Wisdom and courage as we make decisions. Providence. Thanks guys. Nothing means more to us than your prayers.

 

FITNESS, NUTRITION AND MORE

For many of you, the PrayFit Daily is your entry point to our ministry. But how many of you have taken the time to explore the rest of what our site has to offer? Take a minute and find a few of these key links and be sure to bookmark your favorites!

FITNESS: Here, you'll find all you need to start putting your body in motion for whatever it is called to do. From workouts to exercise demos, we provide you a wide variety of ways to start reshaping your body and boosting your health. NUTRITION: Recipes. Research. Dietary tips. It's no wonder that this is one of the most popular pages on our site. To start eating in balance, click here.

RESOURCES: Our book and DVDs form the backbone of our ministry. All of these products offer readers life-changing guidance on honoring the bodies that carry their souls. You can check them out here, or browse the rest of our branded gear.

 

The Island of Grace

"He refreshes my soul..." --Psalm 23:3

Read: Psalm 23

HammockI can't think of a better place to still our hearts and minds than on the island of grace. Be it in the fitness industry or in the aisle at your local supermarket, the water can get choppy, leaving you bobbing in the wake of someone's opinion, society's judgments or self-destructive habits of comparison and self-obsession. The under currents are strong, and it's not long before you're waving your arms, "Look at me, I measure up! I fit in! Can anyone see me?!"

But the anchor of grace reminds us that health is given for one singular purpose: to bring glory to a mighty God. And as we've discussed over the years, that means so many things, and it doesn't mean so many things. But if you're tired, don't worry. Treading water is toughest in really shallow water which is, coincidentally, where the world demands most of your time. But thankfully, God provides a shore. So go ahead and come out. Wrap yourself in a towel of compassion. Have a seat on the beach, run your toes through the sand, take a deep breath, and bask in a warmness only a Godly view of the body can provide.

Next week we'll hit the water again hard, because our health demands our best. But for now -- yawwwwn -- I think I found a great spot for a nap.

--Jimmy Peña

READ + LISTEN

If you're looking for additional inspiration, you can listen to PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña reading through an exclusive selection of devotionals right here on the site. So if you have a few additional moments, click here, open your ears and your heart and give a listen. Or, click below for one of our faves.

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/PrayfitAudio/Marching+Orders.mp3]

Marching Orders

“Jimmy and the PrayFit team embody the words Paul penned to Timothy, ‘For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.’ (1 Tim. 4:8) Their daily devotional feeds my spirit and inspires my sweat!” Josh Cox, elite ultramarathoner, American record holder in the 50K

Falling for Grace

Not sure about you, but we sure have enjoyed spending a few days focusing on a single verse. (Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3) I know Paul's use of an athlete has a special place in many of your hearts, but do you know the rest of the verse? That's right, there's more. I, for one, would have been fine had Paul stopped right there. "I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should." Simply incredible. But Paul went a step further.

Speaking of steps, ever witnessed a false start at a track meet? Seeing as we've talked about runners lately, false starts are tough to watch. On some of sport's grandest stages, many of track and field's top athletes stumble right out of the blocks or worse, they jump the gun -- disqualification from a race you've trained your entire life for is arguably one of the roughest moments to witness.

If anyone in the bible could attest to rough beginnings and false starts, it was Paul. One of Christianity's most zealous enemies, Paul approved of the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58). The man whose hands we've traced under the light of the lamp was once merciless. But a face-to-face with the Author of mercy Himself changed all that. Following his conversion, Paul carried out his mission in the face of mental and physical hardship the likes of which we have never imagined. His tireless preaching and unparalleled endurance has inspired countless missionaries for 2000 years, not to mention the person typing this sentence and those reading it now.

But despite his false start, Paul would finish our favorite verse by saying, "So that after I have preached to others I myself will not be disqualified." Why did he discipline himself like an athlete and train himself to do the right thing? Simple. In order to be seen running the same race in the same way he urged others to run. False starts, stumbles, tumbles are no match for the grace of God, but they're tough to witness and tough on our witness. Truly, Paul pleaded for physical and spiritual discipline not in order to earn grace, but because of the gift of it. He finished strong. Oh for grace, may we all.

--Jimmy Peña

DID YOU KNOW?

Sodium, because of its connection to blood pressure, has been given a bad rap and people have started to think twice about salting their food. According to renowned exercise physiologist, Dr. Jim Stoppani, the Institute of Medicine states that people should be cautious in consuming more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This warning is especially true for those individuals who are salt sensitive or have a history of heart disease. However, a review published in the American Journal of Medicine found that people who consumed less than the IOM’s recommended 2,300 mg of sodium per day actually had a 37% increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease than those who ingested more. Hmm, please pass the salt.

For many of you, the PrayFit Daily is your entry point to our ministry. But how many of you have really taken the time to explore the rest of what our site has to offer? Take a minute and hit up these key links and be sure to bookmark your favorites!

FITNESS: Here, you'll find all you need to start putting your body in motion for whatever it is called to do. From workouts to exercise demos, we provide you a wide variety of ways to start reshaping your body and boosting your health. NUTRITION: Recipes. Research. Dietary tips. It's no wonder that this is one of the most popular pages on our site. To start eating in balance, click here.

LISTEN: For those looking for more nutrition for their souls, PrayFit offers a selection of audio devotionals, read by founder Jimmy Peña. Click, listen, share. RESOURCES: Our book and DVDs form the backbone of our ministry. All of these products offer readers life-changing guidance on honoring the bodies that carry their souls. You can check them out here, or browse the rest of our branded gear.

 

Increase Our Faith

"The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!'" --Luke 17:5

Read: Luke 17

Faith. It's been a neat week, has it not? If you've been with us each day, we've discussed faith as the reason we take the hits that life throws in our direction. We've watched it as it gets us to our feet and walks us to class, and we've learned that it's the reason we sacrifice the dearest things in life for the One we can't live without.

You know, each weekday for nearly six years, we've written to you about health, fitness and food with the hope that you'd enjoy a more abundant lifestyle. Be it for yourself, your spouse, your kids, co-workers and friends, a genuine care and Godly honoring of the body is the best way to live life. But it's my hope that if you don't remember a thing we say about training or take a bite of one our recipes, you leave here everyday with a message. As Eric will attest, my favorite button on the keyboard is the delete button. I admit, it's true. Not a word gets to you before it really gets to me. We don't write sentences to fill a page but to fill your hearts. (Some of you are likely thinking I should hurry to the end of this page. Well, I agree.)

Faith after all -- like James says -- is dead to the world if it's not accompanied by action. What's the age-old truth? Saved by grace and faith proves it? I say we go out there and do just that.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: How has your faith increased this year? How has your health helped you see your relationship with the Lord differently? And conversely, how has your walk with the Lord helped you decide how to take care of yourself? Friends, we sure are glad you're with us each day. May God bless all of you this weekend and we'll see you on Monday.

PAUSE, LISTEN, REFLECT: Did you know that many of PrayFit's top devotionals are available on audio? If you're looking for additional inspiration to finish the week -- and who isn't? -- you can click here for a selection of messages, read by PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña. Take in a few devotions, then share the link with friends and family.

“This exciting devotional will enable you to live out the Scripture which says to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength! (Mark 12:30 NIV)” — Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers, 2010 American League MVP

>> Josh Hamilton, now patrolling the outfield for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was PrayFit's first official endorser back in 2010. This list later grew to include such names as actor/producer Tyler Perry, TV host Mario Lopez, boxing champion Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero and more. Click here to find out who else has found value in PrayFit's daily messages, books and exercise plans.

Jimmy Peña's message of "Life is not about the body, but health is a means of praise" is being well-received by congregations around the country. His story-telling approach to how a healthy body can strengthen the body of Christ and inspire abundant living is a message you don't want to miss. To find out how you can bring Jimmy to your next church service, retreat or community event, contact us at info@prayfit.com today!

Grace Defined

"For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, so no man can boast." --Ephesians 2:8-9

Read: Ephesians 2

How much work does it take to transform your health? If you asked a hard-gainer how much work it takes to add muscle, they'd tell you it's pretty tough. Or ask someone who's struggled their entire life to maintain a healthy weight and you may get a similar response. We need help. We get educated, seek council, take cooking classes, hire trainers, study video. And we're not even discussing unforeseen illnesses, or even problems with immodesty or pride. Whether it's for motivation, specific guidelines, disease control or humility, we need assistance in our effort of Godly, physical stewardship.

So with our focus on grace this week, I decided to look it up. Webster defines grace as "Divine assistance given for sanctification." Now, if you think about how much help we need when it comes to health, how much assistance do you think we need when it comes to Heaven? A little? A lot? A lot, alot? That's why Webster's take on grace falls short, doesn't it? Did you catch it the first time? Assistance, right? So while I was at it, I looked that up too. To define assistance, Webster uses synonyms like "a boost, helping hand, a leg up." Makes sense to the world. We do our share of the work, and God does His. We try our best, but when our best isn't good enough for Heaven, He gives our souls a boost.

But grace is more than what Webster might call a hearty helping of chicken soup for the soul. No, our souls need more than help. In fact, we don't need help, we need Him. If grace were just a boost on God's part, then you and I could boast in our works. His share. Our share. But we don't share. Health is never earned. What would ever make us think grace could be?

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT DEVOTIONS ON AUDIO

Are you a fan of the PrayFit Daily devotions? Were you aware that many of our best devos are now on audio? Click here to give a listen to a selection of inspirational entries from PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña.

>> THE PRAYFIT MINUTE: LISTEN

Jimmy Peña's message of "Life is not about the body, but health is a means of praise" is being well-received by congregations around the country. His story-telling approach to how a healthy body can strengthen the body of Christ and inspire abundant living is a message you don't want to miss. For speaking appearances, ministry assistance, media inquiries, write us at info@prayfit.com.

"Let The Healing Never End"

"Jesus wept." --John 11:35

Read: John 11

If you haven't read today's chapter, Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem. And when Mary finally reached Jesus, Lazarus had been dead four days. Perhaps they thought Jesus didn't hurry or didn't notice. Either way, the grief and pain that Mary and the others were feeling moved Jesus to tears. Although Lazarus would soon be having a good laugh, Jesus cried. Why? Because their loss was His too, and their pain hurt. Imagine that for a second. Their agony hit His heart and...gush.

Yesterday I received encouraging news with one of my surgeons (last year's). But it wasn't an easy appointment. So important was this check-up that I had my wife, mother, dad and small corner of friends hitting their knees for me. I even bet my mom went old school -- like biblical -- and prayed in a closet. And it was the doctor who delivered the good news to a teary Loretta. But he wasn't crying with her. He didn't console her, hold her and he definitely didn't cry. Why? He knew the outcome. He saw her tears and quickly knew how to dry them.

You know, if Jesus could instantly dry the eyes of a broken Mary, surely He could prevent His own from welling up. But aren't we glad He knows how we feel? And shows it? Which makes me think, that probably wasn't the last time Mary cried, or cried out to a healing God. And yesterday wasn't the last day we'll follow her example. I'm learning that it's true that on this side of Heaven, the healing never ends. Like you, I often want Him to hurry or notice. If I didn't know better, I'd say this life looks a lot like that short road to Bethany.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Incidentally, tomorrow is my 14-day check-up with the neurosurgeon. Let the dust fly, and like my boys of the group Salvador sing, "Let the healing never end". Amen?

REPORT: ROOT OF THE PAIN Are you walking around each day with chronic pain in your knees or back? It might not be the thrashing you put on your body in your formidable years. It may be the few extra pounds you've accumulated since. The good news is that there's an easy fix.

>> Get the full report here.

LISTEN: Want to take in some of your favorite entries direct from Jimmy? Click here for a selection of audio devotions and be sure to share the link with your social networks!

Two Tributes

"Then he said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" --Luke 9:23

Read: Luke 9

Undeniably effective for building strength and changing the way your body looks, feels and performs, the squat also happens to be remarkably humbling. As I was looking at today's scheduled workout, I started to look for excuses to avoid my date with the barbell, but then it hit me: I should be thankful I can squat at all.

You see, while I was here racking my head for reasons to avoid this workout, a close friend of mine was struggling with a physical ailment, longing for the day when he could once again test his mettle in the squat or any kind of physical fitness for that matter. He would do anything to get under that bar, to feel the weight pressing him into the floor, to tremble through the uncertain descent that skilled squatters so willingly endure -- and to rise again.

This friend of mine who would give anything to trade places with me on my toughest training day of the week reminds me of another Who traded places with me for all my days to come -- of One who willingly carried the crushing weight of the cross and a certain descent into the tomb, only to rise again.

So today, tossing aside my fears and hesitations, I paid physical tribute to two friends. For one, I squatted. And for the other, I knelt.

--Eric Velazquez

PRAYER REQUEST: This morning, as most of you read this, PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña will be undergoing surgery on his lumbar spine. We ask that you join the rest of our family in praying for him.

Lord, we thank you for the miracles that are our bodies. While we know that our bodies won't last Heaven, we pray that you would help us to be good stewards of our health however long we have on earth. This morning, Father, we pray for Jimmy -- we pray that You would ease his anxiety and fortify his body and mind for the procedure that he is to endure. We pray for his physicians -- we pray that you would bless them with wisdom, discernment and steady hands as they work to repair Jimmy's spine. Finally, we pray for his wife, Loretta -- we pray that you would fill her with courage, energy and her usual, exceptional strength as a woman of God. Lord, we know that You are in control and that you will be by His side throughout it all. We ask that You would whisper your presence into his heart and that you would instill in him a courageous, unwavering trust in knowing that the doctor's hands are in Yours. Lord, today we pray for the body of the man who has made a ministry out of helping so many others take care of theirs. In Your name we pray...amen.

>> Share your own prayers and thoughts for Jimmy below, if you'd like, or drop him a personal message at jimmy@prayfit.com. Thank you for your support!

>> Next week, May 20-24, PrayFit will be going on temporary hiatus, with no new daily devotions or health content being posted to the site. We will be taking the week to commit to prayer for Jimmy's recovery. You can still find tons of valuable content throughout the site (see links below) and can expect delivery of the PrayFit Daily to resume Monday, May 27.

Training - Workouts, training tips and health news

Nutrition - Recipes, eating strategies, weight loss advice

Devotions - You can search our entire library of devotions here

Listen - You can hear select devotions read by Jimmy here

Discipline Determines Destiny

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should." --1 Corinthians 9:27

Read: 1 Corinthians 9

>> AUDIO: To hear this entry read by Jimmy Peña, click here. [audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/PrayfitAudio/Discipline+Determines+Destiny.mp3]

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Charles Stanley with In Touch Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. He delivered a message entitled, "Discipline Determines Destiny." Of course, he made it clear that he wasn't talking about eternal destiny, but that he wanted to discuss our earthly effectiveness; how we handle our money, our time, our relationships and ohhhh yes, while I was at the edge of my seat, he said it..."how we handle our health."

None of the other topics received much of a reaction (perhaps because they were expected), but when he asked the question, "Who wants to live a long, healthy life?", there was a noticeable murmur. When it became quiet, Dr. Stanley simply asked his congregation how they expected to live abundantly when they're facing avoidable and preventable road blocks of health. Hearing it from me is one thing, but when Dr. Charles Stanley says it, it's another thing altogether.

As he preached, I scribbled. He used words and phrases like,

The value we place on our health will be evident in our diligence... Fulfilling, achieving, orderly, less stressful... Aimless and lethargic versus Godly and confident... Feeling good about yourself...  Nothing to do with age... He still has the best in mind for you... Positive impact on others...health can be a way to witness... Build better health and a better faith...

Folks, go ahead and quiet the murmur in your mind and settle your thoughts on this one: Your health is important to God. Any personal justification you've otherwise convinced yourself with, is false. The call to action this week is a call of discipline. And it doesn't matter what you decide to do.  Just decide and work within your means. Walk the block or the dog. Do some push-ups or lift some weights. Walk away from the dessert menu and step up to the plate of clean eating. Discipline determines destiny, and if you're reading this, yours is still unwritten.

--Jimmy Peña

STUDY: A SWEET RISK One of the most common obstacles that people cite in their quest for healthier living is an inability to shake their soda habit. While it's pretty widely known that having these sugar-laden drinks on a regular basis can lead to excess calorie consumption, huge swings in energy and cavities, new research is suggesting that such beverages can also be a danger to your heart health.

>> For the full story, click here.

33 DAYS WITH PRAYFIT

Have you tried the new PrayFit at-home workout DVD? The PrayFit 33-Day Body Toning System is a highly-challenging workout that can be done in your living room with some dumbbells and a workout mat and is guaranteed to provide a powerful stimulus for change. Whether you're looking to lose a few inches around the waist or simply shape-up specific bodyparts, this is the DVD for you. Click here to read more or to purchase one for yourself or a friend!

Uphill Battles

"Carry each other's burdens." --Galatians 6:2

Read: Galatians 6

>> AUDIO: Click here to listen to this entry, as read by Jimmy Peña. [audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/PrayfitAudio/Uphill+Battles.mp3]

Uphill battles. If anyone understood the phrase, Simon did. Simon of Cyrene was of course the man who helped Jesus carry the cross up the hill toward Calvary. In one moment, a bystander. The next, a cross bearer. He did literally what you and I are called to do figuratively. Little did he know the example he was setting. I wonder if he knew his sin would soon be nailed to the tree he carried.

Uphill battles. If anyone understood the phrase, Jesus did. Yet Jesus knew that what He faced, He had to face alone. Nobody on earth, above or below, could take His place as He took ours. But the thought of you and me facing our days without hope was enough to kill Him. The weight of the cross and our helplessness were more than He could bear.

Simon, Jesus. Two men, one cross and an uphill battle.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Build & Burn Getting leaner isn't just about burning more calories. How much weight you can lose is determined in large part by how much muscle you are able to build or maintain. The best body-changing type of workout helps you to use up calories while also challenging your muscles to rise to the occasion. This workout does just that, working all of your major muscles groups with a quick, at-home, equipment-minimal scheme that's sure to leave you better for the effort.

>> Click here for the workout! For additional exercise tips and routines, visit our fitness page.

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" PrayFit. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter YouTube

Change in Heart

"Nothing will be impossible for you..." --Matthew 17:20

Read: Matthew 17

To hear this devotional read by Jimmy himself, click play here: [audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/PrayfitAudio/Change+In+Heart.mp3]

I was asked recently if I thought 33 days was a long enough period to create a change in heart and transform a life. The person on the other end of the question was referring to the time-frame we have listed on our DVDs. And my answer was two-fold. First, a month is both anecdotally and scientifically justified in helping people create habits, so we're confident to that end. After all, our resources are all about helping people get a jump-start on good, solid daily routines of devotions and exercise.

But then it hit me. I'm the wrong person to answer the question. Instead, I say we ask the woman at the well, the blind man in the temple or the criminal on the cross. Let's ask them about the day they met Him. After all, from the moment you meet the one who forgives your past, gives you sight, or secures your future, the only real timeframe in question is any moment spent without Him.

So while we could have written our books or these DVDs to be any length, it's remembering the lengths He went to show us His love that cause a change in heart. You know, it's ironic...we're bold to declare that faith can move a mountain, and yet we doubt it can help us move a muscle.

--Jimmy Peña

>>LISTEN: Spend a few minutes taking a listen to the founder of PrayFit, as he provides message that both inspire and encourage you as you make strides toward better health in 2013. Our new "Listen" page allows you to play select devotionals and share them with your social networks. Click here to hear...

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Can Anything Good Come Out of This?

"'Can anything good come from Nazareth?' Nathanael asked. 'Come and see,' said Philip." --John 1:46

Read: John 1

What a verse. What a story. Oh, I'm sure Nathanael meant well. After all, so do you and I, right? We've asked the same. Just replace Nazareth with your hurt. Can anything good come out of your diagnosis? The unemployment? The heartache? Lord knows I've asked this year. Can anything good come out of this?

Sitting in crowded waiting rooms, watching my doctor go from room to room, just begged the question. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn't be as close to the Lord today, I wouldn't have had a chance to share Christ with my neighbor, and I wouldn't have such a hunger for God's word. In fact, reading through the Gospels this month, I've come to realize more than ever that Jesus healed so many people physically in order to heal the world spiritually. Everywhere He turned, more healing, more believing.

No wonder Philip said what he said. And I like to think he had a grin on his face when he said it: "Come Nathanael. Come...and see."

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. In case you hadn't had a chance to skim yesterday's entry, sit in the waiting room with me. Listen to the hurts. Feel others' pain. click here and scroll down to the comment section. Pick one on the list, bow your head and pray for them specifically as they enter their room and close the door.

UPHILL BATTLE? Why being heavy makes it harder -- but not impossible -- to lose weight, inches

If you're reading this, then chances are you are fitness-minded or at the very least seeking guidance on how to live a healthier lifestyle. And we're glad to have you -- regardless of where you fall on the body-shape continuum.

But those who are on the heavier side have something working against them in their efforts to lean up: their brains. New research in the journal Physiology & Behavior showed that diets high in saturated fat and refined sugar may cause changes to the brains of obese people that in turn may fuel overconsumption of those same foods and make weight loss more challenging. In other words, the heavier you get, the harder the weight will be to lose.

But at PrayFit, we firmly believe that nothing is impossible. That slimmer waistline you seek is attainable, so long as you are diligent, faithful and obedient. For more on this message, click here, then press play.

Let Go of the Rope

"I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" --Psalm 91:2

Read: Psalm 91

As promised in yesterday's Prayfit Daily, here's another journal entry I'd like to share with you.

"I never predicted such weeks like this. If I ever get up...if I ever hope and rise and stand...if I ever smile, truly smile and speak and write and encourage, make no mistake, it won't be because I kept fighting. It won't be because of my inner man, my deep faith or some gut-summoned passion of belief. No, I have none of that. If I ever get better, it will only be by the mercy and unbelievable, inconceivable grace of my dear God."

Is that you today? If it is, I understand. For months, I tried -- hand over hand -- to scale the walls of a pit. The perfect patient with an impeccable health ethic. But as you just read, a few weeks ago, I let go of the rope to find myself on my back, looking up at the impossible, knowing that God's grace is the only answer. I tell ya, of all the things our health exposes, our frailty is one of them. Can anyone agree? How many of you reading this today are dealing with unforeseen health issues that you're struggling to overcome? If so, all of us at PrayFit want to pray with you. List your request(s) in the comment section below or simply say "unspoken" and we all promise to lift you up in prayer.

--Jimmy Peña

FITNESS TIP: What's in a Pump?

We are often asked what good "the pump" is during a workout. Here's the skinny on the muscle pump. First things first, a "pump" simply means that the amount of blood vessels that feed those particular muscles increases, allowing for an increase in the delivery of water and blood to the fibers, or a better pump, as it’s commonly known. It’s that enhanced pump that allows for ongoing success in size and strength because blood and water rush into the muscle faster than the circulatory system can remove it.

Why is that good? Well, that pump enhances the stretch on muscle cells, which triggers them to grow by bringing all the nutrients (e.g., amino acids, creatine, glucose, and hormones) and oxygen needed to support energy production, growth, and recovery within the muscle. The pump also helps remove the byproducts of metabolism (e.g., carbon dioxide and lactic acid), which fatigue the muscles and inhibit performance.

So if you lift weights and enjoy the benefits of the pump after a set, there is reason to rejoice. Send us your other fitness and physiology questions and we'd be happy to try and get to them here on the site.

>> LISTEN: Now, you can share the PrayFit Daily -- written and read by PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña -- with a click of the mouse. Click here, listen to your fave devotionals, then use the new "share" tool to spread the faith!

The Closer

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  --Matthew 24:36

Read: Matthew 24

With baseball season approaching, we thought we'd warm everyone up for our favorite time of year by talking about...the closer. For those who don't know, the closer is someone who specializes in sealing the deal. See, in baseball you play until the game is over. Not the case in other sports. Take basketball for instance. There's a minute left, you're up five points and rather than drive to the basket, you run out the clock. In football, you take a knee. Soccer, hockey -- you name it. Most major sports have a way to play it safe.

I think we all have the tendency to play it safe on occasion. As Christians, we can get into a mindset of "I'm saved, I can coast, I think I'll run out the clock today." But days can turn into weeks and weeks, years. Which reminds me, in baseball, there is no clock. You don't know how long a life -- I mean -- a game can last. Thus, the need for a closer. Someone who does his best work at the end.

Recently I read that Billy Graham hopes to preach one more time before the Lord takes him home. Even though he struggles to stand, Billy still wants the ball. Talk about a closer.

Now, granted, we're no Billy Grahams, you or I. Nobody's waiting to hear our last words. Or are they? The fact that we're reading this sentence means we're still in the game and the ball is in our hands. So stay warm. We just never know when we'll be needed to take the hill.

--Jimmy Peña

5 WAYS TO GET MORE SALMON

Tired of chicken breasts? Add some heart-healthy salmon into your weeknight meal plan. Here are five easy ways to prepare this healthy and sustainable, omega-3-packed fish.

Smoked Prepared smoked salmon is a great alternative when you don’t have time to cook. Wrap around asparagus stalks for a fancy but effortless appetizer or along with a salad for a light meal.

Poached Cooking salmon in a bath of wine, water and spices infuses it with flavor while keeping it tender and flaky. It keeps the calories low, too!

Grilled Thread chunks of skinless salmon onto skewers and grill for dinner in minutes. Sprinkle with a spice rub to add big flavor without marinating.

Wrapped Wrap salmon fillets in foil packets with lemon and fresh herbs for quick cooking and easy clean up.

Seared Finely chop fresh salmon in the food processor for a tasty burger. Flavor it up with sweet pineapple and spicy chili pepper then give a quick sear in a nonstick skillet.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

Go Ahead & Follow

"Before the mountains were brought forth...from everlasting to everlasting you are God." --Psalm 90:2

Read: Psalm 90

Someone from tomorrow is praying for me today. (Come again?) Well, like many of you, I have friends on the other side of the world. And yesterday they asked me if they could be praying specifically about anything, and it hit me. I'm sitting on Thursday, they're conquering Friday. I wanted to say, "What's it like tomorrow?"

When Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James arrived at the tomb, they were told to go tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus had risen, and "He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." (Mark 16:7) Imagine the moment. Yesterday He was dead and gone, today He's alive, and He has just walked the road they needed to find Him. The path is safe.

Wow. If we can pray for each other from different time zones, how much comfort does it bring us to know that God is timeless? He's not only alive in us, but He's been where we're going. Yesterday is dead and gone, but Jesus lives. So go ahead and follow. Someone from tomorrow is praying for you today.

--Jimmy Peña

NEWS: This week, PrayFit's 33-Day Total Body Challenge DVD (Lionsgate) was featured on Beliefnet.com, a faith-based website that reaches over 5 million visitors per month. Click here for the news, then visit our new Press/Media page for related PrayFit hits!

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