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Exercising with God

woman doing sit-ups - photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels

Sit-ups, leg lifts, and squats: how can I pray at all times when I’m supposed to be exercising?

I wonder how the people in Thessalonica responded to St. Paul’s letter teaching them to pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17–19) Did they pray walking to the well? Repairing their tents? Wrapping a stubbed toe?

What does constant prayer mean to me?

I go straight to God every morning upon rising (well, almost every morning). It’s a formal timed prayer slot, because I need that commitment to frame the rest of my day. Jesus, I depend upon you. There’s no substitute for concentrated time with God. I pray a morning offering: Good morning, dear Jesus; this day is for you. Please bless all I think, say, and do. That about covers everything, doesn’t it?

My day begins, and my mind wanders from God in all things. A flurry of activity grabs my focus, and praying constantly flies out of my mind. I’m busy planning, doing, working, cleaning, cooking, catching up, texting, etc. Soon it’s bedtime, and I realize I forgot to be aware that God was with me all day, smiling, watching, helping, and loving. An Examen helps me see where the day went. I ask forgiveness for thinking I could do it all on my own.

Resolving to pray more frequently, and inspired by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who believed in doing even the smallest actions with great love, I devised a little way to turn my thoughts to God during daily exercise. I count my repetitions with Jesus.

Here’s how I do it:

Jesus, you are the ONE.
I run TWO you.
Holy Trinity, one God in THREE,
You I long FOUR.
Forgive me iF-IVE spoken rashly today.
Bless the SICK (SIX), so they may find relief.
Your promise is HEAVEN (SEVEN).
Thank you for all I EIGHT; bless those who go hungry.
NINE, you are so fine!
I promise to turn to you of-TEN.

When I need to alternate leg lifts, I simply use thank you as the half-marker between each rep. Or sometimes I use the best short prayer: Jesus. Perhaps in strengthening my muscles, I’m building strong prayers too.

Yesterday a friend introduced me to the term audio divina. Instead of lectio divina, I pray with music in this adaptation. Listening to music while I do aerobic exercise is a wonderful way to help me pray without ceasing. I bet if St. Ignatius had owned a cell phone, he would have incorporated music into his Spiritual Exercises.

Adaptation is the secret to making prayer exercises our own. Have fun with your prayer today!

How do you pray without ceasing?

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.

Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. Thank you Loretta!
    Finding that “place” where memory, the cognitive, the conscious and the unconscious merge “in-love” is my hoped for “prayer-place,” where I feel the Trinity’s and Jesus’s inspiration and love most clearly. It is difficult for me to carry this sense of Place” with me at times throughout the day.

    Your post this morning is so helpful for those times when my ability to balance these competing realities is out of wack or completely forgotten.. You have provided a wonderful prayerful re-balancing mnemonic! wonderful!

  2. Oh Jesus through the most pure heart of MARY I offer you ALL my PRAYERS, Works, Joys And Sufferings of this day. For all the intentions of your Divine Heart. Amen
    I have had to ask sometimes if He would go a little lighter on the SUFFERINGS & more on the Joys) I learnt this as a very young child. I am 86 now , Luckily I still remember it. ALL MY DEEDS FOR GOD.
    Your is a great one for this era I guess. I would probably get it mixed up!!

  3. Sometimes when I have a hard time falling asleep I make up my own litany to God: God of love, God of patience, God of compassion, personal God etc. & try and think of as many expressions of God. I imagine them floating up to Him.

  4. Thank you for this. I am trying to listen to the Holy Spirit and the distractions are making it difficult. I often pray while walking or riding my bike. This article helps me know that this is a valid exercise!

  5. Thank you, bebe,
    I also realized that the Hail Mary itself can be a way to count to 10, but I find it a little harder to do. It seems to have exaclty 10 idea statements:
    1. Hail Mary,
    2. Full of grace,
    3. The Lord is with you.
    4. Blessed are you among women,
    5. And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
    6. Holy Mary
    7. Mother of God
    8. Pray for us, sinners, now
    9. And at the hour of our death
    10. Amen

  6. Great ideas..
    I started long ago praying Hail Marys during the day..
    Today I notice myself praying all sorts of prayers.. from my morning prayers, Mass prayers, etc. They just flow all day long, silently in the background.
    The Holy Spirit prompts our prayers.. and in this case, I believe He has developed this naturally for me.
    This is what, for me, is praying ceaselessly.
    Thank you for your article.


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Loretta Pehanich
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