prayer

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.

 

All Things New

"Good luck, Jimmy." And after a handshake on Friday, I walked out of physical therapy for the last time. Time flies right? After six months, the surgical site and surrounding tissues are as healed as can be. Doctors say they're not worried about the artificial disks or fusions, but they're more concerned about preserving and sparing the disks I have left. As far as therapy, I soaked up every minute. Of course, as I left I wanted them to be standing at the door waving and shouting, "You're as good as new kid, now go and conquer!" Instead, with one hand I got a long, exhaustive list of Do's and Don'ts, and with the other I got, "Good luck, Jimmy."

Aren't we glad that when Jesus heals the sinner's heart, He doesn't send us off with a list of Do's and Don'ts? He doesn't fix our problem and wish us luck with all the rest. No, He makes all things new. So new, in fact, that when God looks on our lives, He sees the life of His Son. Completely healed. Whole again. Restored. Yesterday we talked about how the chains of daily life get lighter the closer we get to the ground, but when it comes to the weight of our sin, He doesn't just make it light, He blots it white.

Your back may not be broken in pieces or held together with pins, but sometimes your life feels shattered and you feel like you're hanging on by a thread. Scars don't remind you of your weakness...but overdue bills do. So do rejection letters, pink slips and the doctor's diagnosis. Everywhere we turn we face daily, constant reminders of our need of a Savior. A Savior who makes all things new.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Thought you'd like to know the status of my back. Help me praise the Lord that I'm through PT and can begin a new stage of rehab. We often ask for prayer requests, but what praises and celebrations do YOU have to report? For what can we help you praise the Lord? Let us share your excitement! Let's give God the glory together.

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

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Lead Us To Victory

With my head bowed and eyes closed, I heard an honest and sincere prayer for victory last week in Waco. With a strong, southern accent and pure heart, a Baylor executive led a small group of us over lunch praying, "Lord, you know our hearts and you know what's on our minds. Forgive us if it's selfish, but I just pray for a victory tonight against Oklahoma." I grinned with a nod as I opened my eyes to join the amen.

Praying for victory. Isn't it neat that we can go to the Lord with our desires, needs and dreams? As he addressed us following his prayer, in so many words, he reasoned, "God knows my heart and He knows we'll give Him the glory, as well as, do what's right with whatever blessings arise from a win like this. I figure I'd just come out and ask Him." Powerful stuff. Can you sense the smile on my face as you read this sentence?

Are you praying for a victory today? Victories come in all shapes and sizes, you know. Do you need one over physical pain? What about over a habit? Maybe your child is struggling in a subject at school and there's a big test today. Perhaps the competition at work is pretty fierce and you need that new account, the new client, the new chance.

Much like they do on college game days, if we were all in the same room right now, I'd ask everyone to grab someone's hand. After all, the only level playing field is at the foot of the cross and this game of life is best played when we take a knee together. No matter what, Christ died and rose again so that we'd have an abundant life. A victorious life through Him. So Lord, you know our hearts and what we're facing. If it be your will, please lead us to victory today. For thine is the kingdom, the power, the glory, now and forever. Amen.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. I like to think the Lord would enjoy a good game, eat my food and fall asleep on my couch. Isn't it good to know He's our personal Savior?

Secret Shopper Poll: I wanted to thank everyone for your answers and input to yesterday's secret shopper poll. Turns out your heart and desires meet our hearts and desires. That's a win-win.

NUTRITION NEWS: Low Sodium Isn't Always Best

If you struggle with high blood pressure, or are just a little more health conscious than most, you probably try to shake conservatively when it comes to your salt. But the scare over salt may have had some unintended consequences, as this report from CNN Health reveals.

>> Click here to read about the dangers of low-sodium diets.

A Little Ditty

"For physical training is of some value, but training in godliness has value now and in the life to come." --1 Timothy 4:8

Read: 1 Timothy 4

I'm likely giving away my age when I remind you of one of my favorite praise and worship songs, "I Just Came To Praise The Lord." Anyone?...Anyone?

"I just came to praise the Lord. I just came to praise the Lord. I just came to praise His holy name. I just came to praise the Lord."

Classic, right? On more than one occasion, I've felt like that in church. Shake hands, wave at friends, but get me to my seat, I need to talk to Jesus. I felt like that on my walk yesterday. I didn't set any land speed records, but I logged 3.12 miles. It's always such a good time talking to the Lord, cleansing my heart, clearing my mind, praying for family, asking for wisdom, planning excellence. Far beyond the physical benefits the walking is doing to my recovery -- being over a month removed from major back surgery -- my training has always been an extension of my quiet time. Sure, each stride sends vital nutrients to aid in healing, but my "walk" is more important.

Try it. Next time you hit the gym or go for your jog, remember today's little ditty. As you raise those weights overhead, remember the ultimate burden He lifted. As you run your miles, recall the distance He went to call you His own. And I know, the world will demand that you "focus" on the goal, the reason you're in the gym or on the road. And your response can either be spoken or sung, because in truth, you are focusing on the goal and the reason you're in the gym.

--Jimmy Peña

A Little Ditty with Jimmy: Old habits die hard, because 20-plus years ago -- during my really heavy lifting days -- my best lifts always came when my heart was right, my mind was focused and my motives were pure. If I was worried, convicted, or struggling somehow, I just wasn't my best. The habit of praying before each workout became a habit I would take into each set and each rest period, until my training became an extension of my quiet time. Trust me, while I had the Rocky soundtrack blaring in my ears, I had grace and forgiveness coursing through my heart. I even remember specific prayers, mantras even, that I'd say to the Lord. Funny, I still do. Even as I blaze through -- okay, limp through -- my 3.12 miles.

EXERCISE IN FOCUS: Double Crunch

One of the most challenging exercises that you can do for your abs is the double crunch -- which is featured in our workout of the week -- because it hits your abs hard from top to bottom. Here's how to get it right.

Double Crunch | Focus: Upper abs, lower abs | (VIDEO) Lie down on the floor with your legs straight, feet together. Place your hands gently behind your head and raise your feet off the floor roughly six inches. Crunch your upper body off the floor while simultaneously bringing your knees toward your torso, so that your upper body meets your lower body in the middle. Squeeze and return to the start, allowing your legs to remain above the floor throughout.

 

The Safest Place

"Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before God our maker." --Psalm 95:6

Read: Psalm 95

Every once in a while, the world pulls the rug out from underneath us. The sand shifts. The ground shakes. Be it from a financial hardship or perhaps an unexpected diagnosis, keeping your balance is sometimes impossible. And it's not long before you literally -- and perhaps figuratively -- find yourself on the floor, waiting for the aftershocks to stop. But wouldn't you know it? Whether by irony or divinity, the safest place to be when things are unstable is low.

This last weekend we received some news that felt very much like that, and it shook the house of PrayFit. But Sunday night, as I was about to turn in, I found Loretta kneeling at my bedside; a daily habit of hers our entire life together. That night would be no different. As I made my way over to her, I stood there for a second as she prayed. But I knew where I needed to be. After all, that's how we've always kept our balance -- on our knees. So for the first time since my back surgery, I slowly made my way to mine.

Taking her hand wasn't something she expected; shocked might be a better way to put it. She raised her head so fast, and her eyes got huge! I simply nodded and smiled with pursed lips, and then she finished her prayer (Out loud and crying, of course. We're weepers, don't forget.) Oh folks, aren't we so blessed to know that all things work together for good for those who love Him? (Rom 8:28) Like many of you, I am so thankful.

I wonder, are you low today? Should you be? Maybe the job search is still a search. The painful illness still hurts. And although you're a day closer to the future, the ground you're standing on still shows the cracks of yesterday's quake. But trust me. Fill them with your knees. Wherever you are and whatever shakes your world, remember: The safest place to be when things are unstable is low.

--Jimmy Peña

HEALTH UPDATE FROM JIMMY: "I walked to Trader Joe's and back yesterday. That's almost a mile. For me, it may as well have been a marathon. Small steps are huge strides, amen?  I say, To Trader Joe's, and beyond! Thank you all for the faithful prayers."

THE COST OF CALORIES

You may not stop to think about how quickly calories can add up. And if you're not controlling your own food preparation, portions and ingredients can leave you with a waist-widening caloric excess. PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White offers some insight on the caloric "cost" of some common snacks, take-out dinners and desserts in this article.

>> Click here for the true cost of a calorie...

6210-CardinalGIFTS FOR DAD

If you're looking for thoughtful gifts for the health-minded dads in your life, make sure you stop at our newly-revamped online store. Here, you'll find long- and short-sleeve tees, hats and get-fit resources from PrayFit like books and DVDs...everything dads need to spread the concept of health as a means of praise. Want to place a group order? Contact us direct at sales@prayfit.com for special discounts!

>> Click here to start "window" shopping!

To Be That Little Boy

"And he said, 'Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.'" --Matthew 18:3

Read: Matthew 18

What a memory. As a little boy, I was too afraid of what was underneath the bed, so to say my prayers I'd get on my knees on top of it. I remember it like it was yesterday. To say I was scared would be like saying Beethoven wrote some music -- an understatement to say the least. I even remember hoping I wouldn't hurt Jesus' feelings. Kid stuff. But all I knew at the time was 1) my biggest fear was underneath my bed and 2) Jesus wanted me to talk to him; a tricky situation for a kid my age. (Oh, give me the faith of a child again, amen?)

You know, Jesus more than wants us to be like children, He commands it. Not sure why it happens, but as our childlike fear diminishes, so goes our childlike faith. And I'm not sure exactly when that little scenario of mine ended, but the truth is, even though my fears today aren't awaiting me under the bed, I should be no less desperate to talk to Him. So if I think about it, those were actually my best moments, because our best trait is our dependence on Him.

I bring this little story up because my first day back from the hospital last week I realized -- I'm afraid -- that I can't kneel. The only difference is, I'm not worried it will hurt His feelings. But you know -- if it makes sense -- I kind of wish I worried about things like that.

In the area of health, what is your childlike prayer today? Desperate to be healthy for your spouse or family? Are you or one of your loved ones suffering unimaginable pain? If so, let's go to Him. Let's be kids again. List your prayer request or simply say "unspoken" and I promise, he may not be kneeling at his bedside, but that little boy will pray for you.

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Spicy Oven "Fried" Chicken On our long list of cultural comfort foods in America, fried chicken holds a special place near the top. Unfortunately, your local bird fry isn't exactly conducive to the whole "abundant health" thing. Luckily, Kimberly Fuller is offering us all a healthier alternative. Click the link below for the recipe!

>> Healthier fried chicken - click here

The Home of Your Dreams

"I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.'" --Psalm 122:1

Read: Psalm 122

It's the home of your dreams. White picket fence, freshly cut grass, backyard with a grill. It's that kind of home. When you close your eyes and grin, you're swinging on that front porch watching kids that miraculously -- and perhaps unfortunately -- have your nose. It's the home of your dreams. But despite your best offer, the price is too high. All the money you have can't justify the money you'd owe, so you're labeled unworthy; declined.

Say, have you ever been in a billionaire's bedroom? I have. Ever walked the President's garden? Yep, me too. And one thing is for certain...I will never own either. But while I've seen things that only a ton of money can buy, God is building us a mansion that no amount of money can. The offer was Jesus, the payment was His blood, and the asking price is faith. And if you've accepted, the key is yours. Interest paid. The title made to you. Home. The home of His dreams will someday be yours.

So as you and I strive for our little slice of Heaven on earth, be comforted when the world declines you. Because while He keeps asking, God knows what it's like for people to say His offer just isn't enough.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Sometimes our bodies that house our souls aren't exactly up to par. Whether by an unforeseen circumstance or perhaps neglect, you feel the Spirit grieve because of it. If so, we want to pray for you. What are your hurts today? What can we pray for? We want to know so we can lift you up. Either let us know or simply say, "Unspoken" and we promise to pray.

FUEL AND FAT

Like most Americans, you probably paid somewhere near $4.00 a gallon at the pump this week. But before you go and blame Middle East unrest, market instability or rapid inflation, you might want to consider the following information.

>> Click here for the story.

Ready. Set...

"But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." --Psalm 59:16

Read: Psalm 59 In honor of Boston, the London Marathon demonstrated the most appropriate gesture on Sunday. Did you see it? Tens of thousands of runners lined the streets. Shoes laced, bibs pinned, gear on. Then, at the sound of the whistle, they didn't move. Though eager to tackle the course, they stood still. Pausing, they offered 30 seconds of silent prayer in honor of those whose lives were lost and for a city in pain. The most important 30 seconds of the race came before they took one step.

That picture is what we encourage you to do each day before you begin yours. We know you're eager to tackle the course but first spend a few moments talking to the Lord, reading His word, seeking His will, laying down burdens, and lifting up friends and family -- just be with Him. We believe it's the most important time of the day.

You know, countless runners wore shirts, hats or banners revealing they were running for the people of Boston. First they prayed for them, then they ran for them. The most appropriate gesture.

--Jimmy Peña

FALSE START Did you hear about that one runner who ignored the honor and just started running? Wanting to get a head start, he dashed. His actions said, "I'm running for myself. I'll rely on my own ability. My tenacity is enough. Maybe I'll pause later." (Ok, maybe that didn't really happen). But I actually saw his face in my mirror this morning. Maybe you saw him in yours. Did you start your day without a quiet time? If so, you can begin again. False starts don't disqualify us from the race. Ready, set...

KEYS TO HEALTHY WEIGHT GAIN

While weight loss is a popular theme here at PrayFit and other fitness websites, there is a population on the other end of the scale that needs help achieving a healthy weight. Those who are underweight are subject to a different set of problems including suppressed immunity, athletic performance deficiency and osteoporosis. In women, it can be an even greater concern since being underweight can result in the absence of menstruation, infertility or complications during pregnancy. In fact, mortality rates in underweight individuals is similar to that seen in morbidly obese populations. PrayFit contributing nutritionist, Christie Menna, MS, RD, says that there are a few easy strategies for those who struggle to gain weight or maintain a healthy weight.

>> Click here for the strategies!

Here I Am To Worship

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart." --Psalm 138:1

Read: Psalm 138

Here I am to worship. If it's been a while since you've been to the gym, whisper it to the Lord as you open that door. If you're starting to walk after work with your spouse, pray it together as you take that step. Maybe you're about to take a swim, go for a jog or start your at-home DVD. Whatever the case, say it: Here I am to worship.

And as you do, remember -- it's not about the mirror, or lower bodyfat, or the muscle. Those things may happen, they may not. If they do, consider them gifts of obedience and blessings of diligence. But we believe it warms God's heart when we take care of ours. So go ahead. Lift, run, walk, swim, stretch. Have church. After all, you are a temple.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Push-Up Practice The push-up is one of the most fundamental exercises you can build into your program for increasing upper body strength. But not everyone can hit the deck and give us 50. No matter where you are on the push-up power continuum, this scaled workout will allow you get better at it...fast.

>> Click here for the workout.

A Line In the Sand

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” --Colossians 3:23-24

Read: Colossians 3 My recent trip to the water reminded me just how much my wife and I love turtles, especially those sea turtles. My dad used to say to me, “Jimmy, turtles are great because to get anywhere they gotta stick their necks out.” Well, in case you don’t share our enthusiasm, let me share some turtle trivia.

First, they’re born on the beach, even though they were never meant for the sand. And once they hatch, they don’t stick around to watch the grass grow. No sir! No sightseeing for these guys. In order to avoid the predators like birds and crabs, they run to the water as fast as they can. They might be young, but they know enough to know they’re neither safe nor at home.

And neither are we. We’re born on foreign soil and all we need to do is make our way to safety. The good news? Jesus has already defeated our predator, and He drew a line in the sand for us to follow. All we have to do is stick our necks out and run.

–Jimmy Peña

Question: What lines in the sand have you drawn for yourself, physically and spiritually? Are you committed to being obedient in quiet times as well as honoring the body through better choices of food and activity? If you want to share, please do so in the comment section. Let us celebrate and pray with you.

Bonus Trivia Question for Runners: What burns a greater percentage of fat calories? High-intensity intervals or low-intensity/long runs? Think you know? Give us your answer and justification and we may send you some PrayFit gear!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal Cinnamon rolls. Oatmeal. Two breakfast faves that sit on opposite ends of the healthy-living spectrum -- unless you combine the best of both worlds. This recipe gives you the rich flavor of a cinnamon roll with the craving-killing fiber of oatmeal, all in one perfect breakfast bowl.

>> Click here for the recipe!

A Strong Church

"For physical training is of some value, but training in godliness has value now and in the life to come." --1 Timothy 4:8

Read: 1 Timothy 4

Many of you know how much I appreciate Dr. Charles Stanley of First Baptist, Atlanta. And outside of my sweet Brother Henry Powell who led me to Jesus, I consider Dr. Stanley a trusted pastor and mentor. Well, I had the pleasure of visiting his church again last Sunday. His topic: What makes a strong church? I grinned with anticipation in my chair, because I like it when he gets practical. And while I won't list all of the qualities he mentioned, I wanted to share a few.

Doctrinally sound. He said that if the church neglects the Word of God, we're weak.

Faith beneath the surface. He said that every Sunday in a room below the pulpit, a group of men pray for him and for the audience.

Genuine, committed and organized. Genuine love for each member, committed to the purpose of spreading the Gospel, and practically organized to deliver the message.

As he finished preaching, he asked two questions: "What are you doing to contribute to the strength of your church?" and "If others followed your pattern, will the church be strong?"

And now you know why I was grinning. Because I believe that our lives, our bodies and overall health could benefit greatly if we treated them like a church. If you're with me say "Amen." Consider the practical parallels.

1. If we neglect the Word each day, we are absolutely weak. Our might is not in our muscle or bone, but in our spirit. 2. Without faith beneath the surface, there is no service. Pretty is as pretty does. 3. With a genuine, committed and organized approach to honoring the body that God so lovingly designed, we can be even more effective in serving others with our God-given message.

And so humbly, if you would allow me to do as Dr. Stanley did and ask you two questions: What are you doing to contribute to the strength of your church? And if others followed your pattern, would their church be strong?

–Jimmy Peña

Commit: Spend 10 minutes each day reading God's word and praying. Then and only then, pursue physical goals. Will you make this commitment?

WORKING OUT AT HOME

Convenience of exercise is one of the greatest determining factors in program adherence. In other words, the easier a workout is to get in, the less likely you will be to skip it. For a great many people, home workouts are best. Team PrayFit's two workout DVDs provide challenging, results-driven, at-home workouts that are guaranteed to help you build a stronger, healthier body -- without having to venture out to a franchise gym. So far, the reviews on our latest DVD -- the PrayFit 33-Day Body Toning System -- are outstanding! Click here to read what others are saying! For a sneak peek at what you can expect in our newest offering, click the video player below. To order now, click here.

Healthy Conscience

"But we must hold on to the progress we have already made." --Philippians 3:16

Read: Philippians 3

With Thanksgiving in the rearview -- deep breath -- it's time to gear up for Christmas. School activities, shopping lists, travel arrangements. Add to that a genuine desire to be healthy and as fit as possible, and the days get pretty packed, right? If it takes an hour in the gym or on the track to get my workout in, sparing even 10 minutes to read and pray is, well, tough to spare. A show of hands of those who can relate. Who has time to get quiet? Doesn't God know how busy I am?

But folks, if there's ever a time to create new habits or fortify old ones, it's now. At PrayFit, we believe it's more important to have a healthy conscience that it is to be health conscious. For the fitness-minded, shame on us if we train and eat "perfectly" this week but never crack open our bibles or hit our knees. Sure, it's great to plan your workout, but more important to work your heart out.

So let's enjoy the season; shop till we drop, pull out the Christmas sweaters and hang the lights. But as you set the week's schedule including your workouts and meal plans, bless the Lord and your life by adding in those precious few minutes of reading, praying and listening. Start with today's chapter. Find out the context of the verse. God knows time is precious, and He misses His with you.

--Jimmy Peña

Did You Know? >> The average person spends 18 hours a month on Facebook (checking the news feed just 7 times a day.) How many verses could you read in 18 hours a month? Will you lay down social media to get closer to the Lord?

WORKOUT OF THE MONTH: PrayFit 33

Don't wait until the turn of the calendar to renew your commitment to health and fitness. The PrayFit 33-Day Body-Toning System, the sequel to the team's first workout DVD, is a highly-effective blend of resistance training and cardio that can help you reshape your body for good.

For more information or to order, click here!

A Dangerous Prayer

"Why did we ever leave Egypt?" --Numbers 11:20

Read: Numbers 11

Did you catch it? They actually missed prison. Not long after the Israelites met freedom, they actually longed for captivity. Behind bars they had no choices. As inmates, they had no responsibility. Even though they were trapped, they were warm, cozy, and full. Their prayer for freedom was a dangerous one. Nothing a generation in the desert couldn't answer.

What about us? When was the last time you and I prayed dangerously? About finances, a relationship...our health? See, once they were set free, the Israelites faced the need for obedience and responsibility; so do we. Folks, our bodies are merely tools, not finished products. Better fitness simply means better equipped. It's tough to visit the poor from the couch, and it's impossible to see the hurting in our own mirror. But we're warm, cozy, and full (even if of ourselves). (Note: this should speak to both the fit and the not-so-fit.)

If God allows us the opportunity for better health, what will we do with it? Will we sit? Focus on ourselves? Will we allow a generation to wander before we see health as a means of praise? If so, why did we ever leave Egypt?

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT AT YOUR CHURCH

We've been receiving a steady flow of e-mails over the past few months about how to get the PrayFit message -- a message of health and effective physical stewardship as a means of praise. These messages have been from concerned parishioners, just like you, who see the alarming trend of obesity and poor health spilling over into their congregations -- people who see the value and critical importance of respecting the bodies that we were blessed with, even if it's a new idea to them.

One of the best ways to bring up the collective health of your church is to let them hear the message, direct from its architect: Jimmy Peña. This spring, arrange to have Jimmy speak at your church. For more information to share with your pastors and boards, contact us at info@prayfit.com. And for a taste of what they can expect, click 'play' below.

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.

Waving Over Walls

"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call on Him in truth." --Psalm 145:18

Read: Psalm 145

As a young boy, watching my dad leave for work was more than a habit or tradition -- it was a son's ritual. We'd say bye to him at the door, then I'd run to my room and watch for him from my window. I remember we had a big rock wall, over which I could barely see the top of his truck. As he drove down the street he'd wave goodbye out his window and I'd be waving from mine. And all was right with my world.

But boy oh boy, if I happened to miss his truck, you'd think the sky had fallen. I still remember the anxiety. "Did I miss him? Did I look down or turn away? As much as I wanted to watch him wave, I needed him to know I was there waving back. And if I thought he didn't see me,  I was a mess. Mom would get me on the phone with Dad once he got to work, and he'd calm me down. He'd assure me that he sees me waving, even if I can't see him.

I don't know when I grew out of that, but I didn't outgrow the need to see my dad.

God, we're at the window. We've run here to watch you go to work in our world. We're on our tiptoes, and our little eyes are looking for you over the walls of fear and doubt that we ourselves have built. But even if we look down or turn away, you're there. Lord we need you so much. You see us waving, even if we can't always see you.

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYER REQUESTS? God sees you and me in our physical struggles. Whether if it's to lose weight or if we're suffering from a chronic condition with no end in sight, He sees us. So keep waving at Him. And if we can be praying specifically for you, please let us know in the comment section. If not specifically, simply write "Unspoken Request" and we promise to pray.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: EZEKIEL STYLE Below is a recipe with one of our favorite healthy carb choices: Ezekiel bread. Great as a pre-workout food, Ezekiel bread will stay in your system longer, allowing you to get a lot of good energy from it. Ezekiel bread takes grains and legumes, mixing them together and making bread that contains no flour but is instead a mix of organic sprouted whole grains like wheat, millet, spelt and barley and legumes like lentils and soybeans. This makes the bread not only a source of very low GI carbs, but also a good source of complete protein.

Cinnamon-Apple Peanut Butter Toast 1 slice Ezekiel bread, toasted 2 tsp natural peanut butter 4 pieces thinly sliced apple Pinch ground cinnamon Spread peanut butter on toast, top with apple and cinnamon.

Calories: 159 | Protein: 6 grams | Carbohydrates: 19 grams | Fat: 6 grams

Alternative Recipe: Replace peanut butter with 2 Tbsp of low-fat cottage cheese.

 Calories: 109 | Protein: 8 grams | Carbohydrates: 18 grams | Fat: 1 gram

>> SUBSCRIBE: Are you subscribed to the PrayFit Daily? If not, click here. You'll get this bite-sized portion of health and faith every morning, straight to your inbox, FREE. Sign-up then tell your friends and family to do the same!

God's Most Common Command

"Never stop praying." --1 Thessalonians 5:17

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5

Of all the things God calls us to do, what does he require more than any other? No doubt it's to give to the poor. No wait, I know -- it's to love one another, for sure. What could be more important than that? Well, believe it or not, the most common command found in scripture is to pray.

Without question, God wants to hear from us -- from the times we need Him, to when He deserves our praise. And since we've never lived one second when either reason wasn't true, I suppose we have our answer.

You know, it dawns on me. We spend so much time on either the phone, on Twitter or updating Facebook. And all the while, God, our best friend who loves us more than anyone, is hanging on our every thought. Like a proud, new dad when he hears his daughter's first words, God is at the edge of His seat, ready to hear our status update. Brings a lump to my throat when I picture Him asking, "What's happening now?"

--Jimmy Peña

Question: How much time do you spend on social media? Are you willing to commit 5-10 of those minutes a day talking to God? Truly, we are never more powerful than when we are on our knees in prayer.

RACING FUEL Why going completely empty may not be the best option to burn the most fat

Many people think that getting out for an early run on an empty stomach is a great way to burn bodyfat. Those people aren't wrong -- but they're not entirely right, either.

Since your brain runs on glucose (blood sugar), when you wake up in the morning, your body is in a carb-depleted state. So going for a run before eating means that your body is likely to tap into fat stores for fuel sooner. But it can also put you at risk of losing muscle.

"You don't want to go on a completely empty stomach," says Jim Stoppani, PhD, nutritional authority and co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days." "A better approach is to take 5-10 grams of branched chain amino acids (BCAA), which provide the body with fuel while sparing muscle tissue."

So for your next early run, don't go completely empty. Top off the tank with 5-10 grams of BCAA to supplement your stride and to help you retain your muscle mass.

 

It Took a Funeral

"The one who believes in me will live, even though they die." --John 11:25

Read: John 11

If anyone had the right to claim credit for the phrase "Today is the first day of the rest of my life" it was Lazarus. Four days gone. Entombed. Lazarus was dead. Then he wasn't. If any day felt like the first to him, this was the one. But it took a funeral to make him feel alive.

You and I are no different. Well, we don't cheat graves, but we are called to die each day...to ourselves. But we can't talk about death without including every aspect of life. Our minds: how we think. Our motives: selfish and proud. And our bodies: how we nourish His temple on earth. If we strive to be obedient in everything including, say, our approach to food, we live better. Conquering our daily life of health requires a daily death of self.

It's tough to live in a grave. Just ask Lazarus. His best day was his first day, and so is yours. And it begins at a funeral.

--Jimmy Peña

THE IMPORTANCE OF "PRAY" IN PRAYFIT Research reinforcing the connection between physical and spiritual health The name "PrayFit" isn't an accident. We believe that a deeper connection with the Lord -- which is achieved through daily reading, prayer and fellowship -- is central to your ongoing quest for a healthier body. A recent story lends credence -- actual lab-coat-and-bar-graphs kinda credence -- to this fundamental truth.

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that individuals who prayed daily were 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure than those who didn't pray regularly. And a 2011 study of inner city youth with asthma found that those with regular prayer lives exhibited fewer and less severe symptoms.

But the floodgate of research showing the correlation of spiritual and physical health doesn't stop there. Read the full story from the Huffington Post by clicking the link below.

>> HUFF POST: Why People Who Pray Are Healthier Than Those Who Don't

PRAY: Click here to pray with and for other members of the PrayFit community!

HOT TOPIC: Does God call us to be fit? What's your take?

A Dangerous Prayer

"Why did we ever leave Egypt?" --Numbers 11:20

Read: Numbers 11

Did you catch it? They actually missed prison. Not long after the Israelites met freedom, they actually longed for captivity. Behind bars they had no choices. As inmates, they had no responsibility. Even though they were trapped, they were warm, cozy, and full. Their prayer for freedom was a dangerous one. Nothing a generation in the desert couldn't answer.

What about us? When was the last time you and I prayed dangerously? About finances, a relationship...our health? See, once they were set free, the Israelites faced the need for obedience and responsibility; so do we. Folks, our bodies are merely tools, not finished products. Better fitness simply means better equipped. It's tough to visit the poor from the couch, and it's impossible to see the hurting in our own mirror. But we're warm, cozy, and full (even if of ourselves). (Note: this should speak to both the fit and the not-so-fit.)

If God allows us the opportunity for better health, what will we do with it? Will we sit? Focus on ourselves? Will we allow a generation to wander before we see health as a means of praise? If so, why did we ever leave Egypt?

--Jimmy Peña

STUDY: HIGHER PROTEIN DIETS BETTER FOR BODY COMPOSITION

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who consistently consume more calories than they burn each day will lose lean muscle and accumulate body fat more easily if their diets contain too little protein and too much fat and carbohydrates.

The results of the study suggest that the minimum protein intake federal health officials currently recommend -- 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams per day for men -- may not be enough to maintain muscle mass in some people. The study participants needed to consume at least 78 grams of protein per day to avoid losing muscle.

>> For the full story from CNN, click here.

GEAR UP: Looking for PrayFit books, DVDs or apparel? You're just one click away. Visit the newly-designed PrayFit store by clicking here.

Be Still and Run

"Be still and know that I am God.""Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us."

Read: Psalm 46, Hebrews 12

If you've ever watched a track meet on TV, you've noticed that as the runners enter the starting blocks, there's a moment of absolute silence. After the athletes find their place, they kneel, bow their heads, then -- pow! -- off they go.

Well, if you're new to PrayFit, we're a lot like that. In a sense, we represent two bookends of the day -- stillness and movement in one. We believe God was as serious when He said "be still" as He was when He said "run the race." And at PrayFit, we take these orders both literally and figuratively.

So welcome to the start of a new day. Find a good place to kneel, bow your head and run.

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Banana Bread

The smell of a still-baking loaf of banana bread is an olfactory experience that we at PrayFit do not take lightly. Only we know all too well how dangerous this indulgence can be if eaten by the loaf instead of by the slice. Luckily, PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, knows how to take the sugary sting out of banana bread without sacrificing flavor.

"There’s no better way to use over-ripe bananas than banana bread, but all the butter and sugar in traditional banana bread recipes can clobber you with calories and fat," she says. "Use our tips to make this breakfast classic more figure friendly."

Nutrition Facts There’s a lot of variation in the nutrition info for banana bread recipes. Those made with butter and eggs come out higher in unhealthy saturated fat and cholesterol, while those made with vegetable oils are still high in fat and calories, but contain more heart-healthy fats. On average, most breads come out to 110 calories and 4-5 grams of fat per ounce — and slices can vary from anywhere from 2-5 or more ounces.

Lighter Options There are numerous ways to tone down your favorite recipe. Try a couple of these easy fixes:

>> Bananas add moisture and sweetness so you can cut back on the fat and sugar. Try using 25 percent less fat and sugar than your usual recipe calls for. >> Applesauce or apple butter can also help replace the fat and added sugar. >> Downsize the portions to muffin or mini-muffin pans. >> Cut a standard loaf pan sized-bread into 12 slices. >> Make a cholesterol-free version using canola oil, apple butter and soy milk. >> Nuts and chocolate chips are great add-ins, but keep portions to no more than one tablespoon per serving.

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.

>> NUTRITION: Looking for more recipes and healthy eating tips? Visit our nutrition page by clicking here.