Endurance Prayer

I successfully completed my first triathlon on Sunday.  Yeah!  It was actually a short “Adventure Race”: Kayak 2 miles, Bike 20K and Run 5K.  My only real goal for this race was to just complete the race without walking.  I did much better than that, but I did worry about pacing myself and enduring the entire race.  When I ended, I had lots of energy left — darn, I should have pushed harder.   🙂

Below is an example how I might have prayed to God for endurance during such an event in my Christian days.  The diagram illustrates one of the many images I had of my relation to the Divine — remember, I have always been a very visual person.  In this image, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and the Holy Spirit helping us communicate .  This Session of Christ Model is one of the many models I saw during my Divine communications.  I recall often wondering how I was suppose to visualize the communication.  In my post Guidance Prayer, I show how our prayers are simply talking to ourselves — literally, to our many selves.  But in the diagram I made there, I left out The Holy Spirit — ooops.  Sometimes you can’t remember all the correct theology in a prayer.  In fact in my post called  forgetting about Jesus I tell about realizing that leaving “Jesus” out of my prayers can not be as bad as I imagine.  That insight about proper prayer then dramatically accelerated my downward spiritual spiral.

Anyway, without further ado, in this post I am again illustrating this simple phenomena:   the actual mechanics of a Christian endurance prayer.  Let’s start with how a Christian may view his prayer to God to get endurance during a bike race:

Below is a naturalist’s model of what may actually be happening in a person praying for endurance — various sides of the racer push him to do better.  A Christian may hear these voices as being the loving supportive voice of their god.

Hearing God’s voice is easy — especially when you really want to.  I am sure there were several Christians in my race who were being encouraged on by their Lord Jesus.  Similarly, Lord Krishna may have cheered on some Hindu racers.  But for all of us, no matter how we interpreted the voices in our heads, the race was fun and I look forward to another race in four weeks.  Hopefully in this next race I won’t daydream about such silly images and instead, run a little harder.



Filed under Personal

27 responses to “Endurance Prayer

  1. “A Christian may hear these voices as being the loving supportive voice of their god.”

    And perhaps some Christians would have no problem with that interpretation, believing that God works that way through shaping our thoughts.

    Funny ending. You will have to do some training races so you can pace yourself better! Congratulations on finishing strong, that is quite an accomplishment.

  2. Endurance prayers sound much better than the sweat needed in “training races”. Dude, you’ve got to have faith ! 😆

  3. Maybe the Christians weren’t saying prayers; maybe they were daydreaming silly images about what the atheists were thinking! I’ve noticed that some holy rollers love to think and talk about what non-Christians desire; especially if the speculations are salacious enough.

  4. I recall stories of disaster situations where people had to hike out of the barren wilderness and would hear a voice in their head encouraging them. I actually had something like that happen to me, we had gone winter backpacking when we were kids. Had never gone in winter before and knew nothing about it. Our water froze, but the booze didn’t. Can’t imagine why we were delusional on the way out.

  5. Congratulations on finishing! I’d like to do a triathlon someday.

    When I ran a marathon last fall, I lost count of how many “Run and not be weary” spectator signs there were. My favorite spectator signs, though, were held up by two nuns. One said, “Kick ass butt, sinners!” and the other said, “Run like hell!” Gotta love nuns!

    I don’t remember praying when I was running, more just hoping. I knew I had trained well. It was my first marathon and my goal was just to finish. Next time I’ll run harder!

  6. It is really easy to equate prayer with achieving mental focus, after all, that is part of what meditation teaches. I tend to agree that people who pray just for themselves just for a personal result like finishing a race may be doing little more that performing a mind exercise that might be as effective as focused thought. Excluding all of the physiology that is triggered by such mentation, when the race is itself a part of the individuals personal expansion and development in a greater spiritual context, there is much more to it that just your example of mentation.

    I am going to search your archives to see if you talk about really serious and if you truly take into consideration the things that empirical science or psychology really cannot explain. I do not disdain your purpose as I think much of what people call Christianity is really a superficial immitation of it and as such deserves to be debunked but I haven’t read anything yet that addresses anything deeper than the mere shell.

    Shall we see where your downward spiral, as you described it, leads? I went through a similar time but my outcome was significantly different that yours seems to be.

  7. @ Leah: Thanx

    @ Joseph: Enjoy your research. From your tone, I imagine you will be a little disappointed with my level of superficiality, but go at it. Please do feel free to “distain” anything I write.

    Meanwhile: Prayer is not one thing. People do lots of different things in their heads and with their minds when they say they are praying.

  8. Congrats on the triathalon. I’ve always wanted to do one, but have never committed to training seriously enough.

    I’ve started back doing serious cycling and swimming in the past couple of months so I might make it someday.

  9. @ John D: Thanx mate. Best wishes on your training.

  10. The placebo effect that someone big, really big in the heavens is given us strength is almost impossible to match. It used to give me drug-induced-like highs.

    I must admit I miss it.

    Congrats on completing your triathlon. It must feel great.

  11. @ Lorena: Thanx
    Special congrats on your husband’s new job!
    Having a host of spirits in the sky supporting us is indeed enticing enough to help us re-interpret our own inner voices.

  12. DaCheese

    There was a recent fluff article on a study that suggested that superstitious thinking in general improves sports performance, mostly because of increased confidence. One of those cases where empirically false beliefs can nonetheless be advantageous.

  13. @DaCheese Dumbo’s magic feather sure worked for him! 😉

  14. boz

    I love doing triathlons, they are great fun! Congratulations on doing your first one. Are you aiming for Olympic distance next? (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run)

    If you don’t watch out, you’ll get hooked and end up doing several ironman triathlons! (3.8k swim, 180km bike, 42km run)

  15. boz

    one time I was doing a half-ironman triathlon, and at roughly the half-way point of the run, 5hrs in to the race, there was a very isolated section of the course. I became very paranoid that someone was watching me, stalking me, hiding in the bushes. Obviously this was not the case, because the person would have to be running(slowly) to keep up with me. I had auditiory hallucinations of the shuffling of feet and the rustling of bushes and hushed voices.

    This feeling went away after several minutes.

    Good times!

    I lost 5.5kg that day.

  16. @ boz,
    No, I am not aiming at the higher distances. I am partially skeptical that such training is not good for your health in the long-run. Sprint training, if kept as a part of your training, seems about right.
    But I may be wrong. I have been wrong lots of times.

  17. Boz

    You may be right, I don’t know.

    I understand that the only proven way to increase lifespan is calorie reduction. And I conclude from this that an increase in calorie intake will reduce lifespan. Long training hours require increased calorie intake and therefore reduce lifespan. Maybe.

  18. DaCheese

    Boz, I think the jury’s still out on the details there. Some of the effect could be from overall metabolic rate, in which case you’d be right. But some of it may be from a specific genetic “switch” being flipped in periods of caloric insufficiency, in which case it may not matter whether you’re eating 70% of a required 2000Kcal/day, or 70% of a required 4000Kcal/day.

  19. ” Anyway, here is the possible mechanics for a Christian endurance prayer.”

    see, wording like this helps me hear you. thank you for that.

    i noticed that your only using the endurance prayer in the short-term. so i can understand, and even agree with it. while on CPE we have 7 codes in under 5 hours. i was the only one on and i was exhausted. by the 6th code, i prayed a prayer much like this one and felt new energy come. i thought my reserves had been depleted. i am still unsure if the prayer was answered or if i had reserves i didn’t know about. it could be as you described.

    however, as i mentioned the head pastor of my church is going through some serious health issues. he had a liver replacement about 10 or so years ago and now has more. his health was always on a razor’s edge. i told him about this theory and he stated “prayer is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.” i have also seen this with Palliative care patients living with mind-numbing pain. they claim that the only way they get around is by the grace of God.

    my question then is, how does this work in the long run? is it the same as you describe? is it just a placebo effect or a focusing of the mind, a walking meditation?

  20. and congrats on the completion of the triathlon!! impressive!

  21. @zero1ghost: A few years ago, I read a book written by a French palliative care nurse, recording her experiences watching many people die of terminal illness. I can’t remember the title now, but I know there are several similar books.

    One thing I remember clearly is that many of her patients were not religious. She had several patients who were dying of HIV from drug use or sex. Although many became religious as they neared the end, many did not. The most common coping strategy seemed to be in trying to help out loved ones and do as much good as possible before dying.

  22. @ Zero:
    You are welcome for the wording — your visits help keep a softer voice in my head. Besides, it is actually what I think anyway. There may be many other explanations, but that is one. Of course, none of the ones I’d entertain (without evidence) is ghosts, spirits or gods, of course. But as you know, I use to feel otherwise — and very honored to hear the god’s voice.
    Concerning the pastor with very bad illness, if he didn’t have religion, I imagine (as JSAllen points out) he’d still find himself making it through the day and re-interpretting his stamina due to service to others or some other cause. I think his is retro-actively interpreting (but hell, no one should challenge that at a time like this, no?)
    Sorry, I don’t understand your question about the “long run”.

  23. @ JS Allen: thanx for the contribution — I used it in my responds to Ghost (one of your fellow Christians, though of different theology, I think)

  24. i think faith helps, but isn’t necessary for everyone. Even Nietzsche recognized that if someone can answer the why of life, he or she can cope with most any how. the pastor believes he can endure because of prayer and his faith. i’m not going to argue because 1. i think it’s possible and 2. you’re right, we don’t challenge that at a time like this.

    what i’m asking in the long run is: you’re post is about the short-term, does that also translate to the long term type of endurance?

  25. Sabio Lantz

    I am not sure of short term vs. long term endurance. Isn’t long term a bunch of short terms. Again, I think you are trying to pack a lot in a question without telling me what you want to accomplish. Glad to help if you are more pointed and out front with me.

  26. Peter

    I like the idea of using visualisation and internal self-talk to enhance athletic performance. I know many professional athletes, especially divers and golfers use visualisation to “see” the perfect outcome before executing their routines.

    Playing tennis I sometimes imagine my strings to be especially thin and imagine them “cutting” into the ball imparting extra bite and spin. This image invariably delivers more top spin and I don’t have to modify my swing to get the result I am after.

    So if I were cycling on a level road, I might imagine that I am going downhill ever so slightly so as to invoke a sense of ease and more speed. Or I might imagine the asphalt road to be very smooth so as to impart less rolling resistance. Maybe I imagine the wind is behind me. Or a strong, helpful man with a white beard is pushing me forwards ever so slightly.

    A low carb high fat diet might also help with physical endurance.

  27. @ Peter,
    Yep, well this post is about people making a god(s) out of their self-talk. You do it and a religious person does it but they explain the effect differently.

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