I went for a bike ride today. Donning my “never-ride-without-this” gift from wife who insists I wear a bright yellow jersey when I am out on the roads, I took one water bottle and one gatorade and went out for what I hoped would be a 20-26 mile ride. My goal was to cover a marathon distance in under two hours on my 40 pound, $110 department store bike with its thick tires, determined to get a good workout by staying in my highest and hardest gear for the entire ride.
My wife is under the delusion that if I have my yellow jersey on I am easy to see and therefore safe. I am under the delusion that when I wear the yellow jersey, I am a tour de france rider. I’m not sure which delusion is bigger.
So there I am pedaling down the back roads of Iroquois County, noticing things. Thoughts: “‘Lot of small yellow butterflies. ‘Lot of grasshoppers. That farmer has already harvested his corn. This farmer is waiting on his soybeans. There are no cars out here. Wow, there is a lot more wind in my face without that corn now that it has been harvested.”
In other words, a lot of mundane, boring stuff. Then I started to pray for my family. In the middle of that prayer I remembered a headline that said something like, “Using the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) as a Model for Discipleship”. I haven’t read it but I will now, because I used the next ten miles to pray through the Lord’s Prayer phrase by phrase and it was a humbling, convicting, and thrilling process.
“Our Father …, Lord thank you for being my Father, thank you for the wonder of knowing that I am always loved, looked after, cared for …” And the miles would roll by, at times, tears of repentance welling up in my eyes, sorrow over sin and failure, brokenness over lost people who don’t know Christ, joy over new life in Christ that others have found. I’m glad there was no one to see me. The grimacing and pain on my face at times had nothing to do with the physical exertions but much more to do with the passion and emotion that the Spirit of God was pulling out of my soul as I prayed for so many things. It was good. God met me and I am refreshed. There was joy in the sorrow and sorrow in the joy and God was using the time to refresh my spirit.
The ride? I didn’t go for 26 miles, though at one hour I was on pace to break two hours for a running marathon distance. Mapmyride.com says that I burned 907 calories, but it doesn’t know how much my bike weighs (I must have burned more). In all, I covered 16 miles in an 1.22.33 (1 hour, 22 minutes, 33 seconds). Pretty slow but progress toward my goal of 1000 miles on the bike before the snow flies. Not enough stamina for a 26 miler a pessimist would say. An optimist would say, “not yet.” I’m an optimist.
But I am more excited by the time with God. I recommend praying the Lord’s prayer, phrase by phrase. Let its rhythms suggest the paths of your prayer. Take a long walk. Pray it while you run. Sit in your favorite chair (TV off) and pray the Lord’s Prayer phrase by phrase.
It might bring you to tears and it might be the best tears you have ever filled your eyes.