Usually, when I go to the fitness center in the morning, I step onto the elliptical trainer, plug in my earphones, and tune the television monitor to CNN to catch up on the latest news, but this morning it seemed to be one commercial after another until finally, frustrated, I turned off the monitor, unplugged the earphones, and closed my eyes.
It was surprisingly quiet, and surprisingly peaceful. I could hear some music in the background but mostly I could hear the rhythmic hum of the elliptical trainer as I worked those poles and foot pedals. Without the distraction of the television monitor, my thoughts began to drift toward prayer, and eventually toward the Lord’s Prayer. I prayed it the way we say it in staff meeting:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
In Richmond, as it is in heaven…
As I thought about the Kingdom of heaven coming to Richmond, Virginia, I also thought about how, in staff meeting, we sometimes talk about the way that kingdom will come—through the ministries of service, outreach, fellowship, education, and worship derived from the clear commands of Christ. And then I began to think about those commands, and tried to put them in the form of a prayer. It came out something like this:
I want to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, Lord.
I want to love my neighbors just as much as I love myself,
even the ones who are hard to love.
I want to love my Christian brothers and sisters in the same way you love me.
And wherever I go today, I want to make disciples,
inviting others to follow in your footsteps,
and sharing with them all that I have learned along the way.
Help me do that, Lord. Help me do all of that,
For it’s in your name that I pray.
It probably wasn’t as good as that when I prayed it, but it wasn’t bad, and even as I said the “Amen” I thought of it as a kind of missional prayer, a prayer for disciples who are on mission. Of course, that’s what the Lord’s prayer is, too, and I wouldn’t presume to improve on that one. But I think I might still pray this one from time to time as a way of staying focused on those things the Lord commanded, and as a way of reminding myself I can’t do any of those things without his help.
It’s amazing what can happen when you turn off the TV. Today I amazed myself by bursting into spontaneous prayer—at the fitness center!—accompanied by the rhythmic hum of the elliptical trainer.
I’ll have to try it again sometime.