Do prayer and exercise go together?

Q: I’ve learned in Christian Science that I can pray about my health and expect to be healthy. But then I also hear about moving my body, exercising, and doing physical activities—like to be balanced. Do prayer and exercise go together?

A: 7 … 8 … 9 … oof! I was just finishing a set of Spiderman push-ups when something in my back went all weird. Awkwardly, I struggled to stand up. Bouncing on my toes for a second just to see . . . wow, yeah, I was done exercising for the day. 

Students: Get
JSH-Online for
  • Every recent & archive issue

  • Podcasts & article audio

  • Mary Baker Eddy bios & audio


Gingerly I walked home, feeling sure I’d feel better tomorrow. I was training for a big endurance obstacle course—a ten-mile run interspersed with twenty different obstacles—and this intense workout I’d been doing seemed like just the thing to get me ready for it.

Why did I think God would help me un-tweak my back, but that the race itself would be all on me?

But now this injury threatened to derail it all. For the rest of the week, I couldn’t run, much less do other exercises. And then one week turned into two.

Now, I’m a practicing Christian Scientist, and that means I’m very accustomed to turning to God in prayer to find a solution whenever I’m facing something difficult. And I had been praying about this injury. But you know, what I was really praying for was that I’d be able to get back out there and continue my training because I didn’t want this intense race to be a miserable failure. 

And that’s what I finally realized on my third week out of commission. I was glumly looking at my workout plan, wondering when God would help me get back to it, when I realized why that thought made no sense. Why did I think God would help me un-tweak my back, but that doing well in the race itself would be all on me? Why did I think that my success in the race—doing my best or maybe even better than I thought I could do—depended entirely on what I did to make that happen? Huh. That was interesting. Was it possible that God might actually be of help to me in every aspect of the race? Not just for the needed healing, but holistically in every single way—including the assurance of success in my upcoming event?

I have to tell you, this line of thought brought me such a wonderful feeling of openness and joy! I love praying—I really do. And the idea that prayer could be of real benefit even in completing this big race was a thrilling idea. 

I was completely healed—and back to burpees, spiderman pushups, and long runs the very next day.

But I wanted to go deeper. I knew I wasn’t going to pray, “Please, God, let me succeed in this race.” Instead, a familiar passage from the Bible came to mind: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28–31, New King James Version).

Oh wow. Now I got it! The entirety of my life—my health, prospects, career, and yes, even this obstacle course—was renewed and strengthened by God. My role was just to wait on Him—actively watching for God and His loving activity. Not only could an injury not come between God and me, but I couldn’t come between God and me, either. My working out was not a replacement for God’s love; it was an avenue and opportunity to feel and express His strength! So I could certainly love to exercise freely and well, but I didn’t have to elevate that exercise to a position where I thought it had actual power over me to make or break my success or determine my health.

Well, this sense of true praise and freedom sang through me. I was completely healed—and back to burpees, Spiderman push-ups, and long runs the very next day. The race went so well, too! Rather than being a separate thing, this activity was now the outflow of my prayer. And truly, the best part was that I’d discovered that my joy, my strength, my capacity, were all sourced in God, who is certain and sure. And availing myself of His love through activity was simply a seamless way, one among many, for me to honor His love and His allness.

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.