By Peggy Matthews Rose

Looking for fresh inspiration for your workout? One Daniel Plan-based small group has discovered it in the power of prayer—literally speaking.

The eureka moment began when small group host Gloria Lee of Hermosa Beach, whose health history includes limiting lung disease, discovered that “praying for others while walking . . . improves my breathing and stamina.” Adding to her challenge is the fact that Gloria’s house is on a somewhat steep hill—a fact that formerly forced her to stop at least once or twice on her way up.

“I can now make it up the hill without stopping and have shaved two to three minutes off my normal time. Although I do believe in the power of prayer, I think there is also something about not thinking of yourself and how miserable and out of breath you are that improves your overall results. There’s the added bonus of feeling closer to your small group and the mental clarity that comes with exercise.”

When fellow group member and Playa del Rey resident Minnie Lee (no relation) went on a 65-mile bike ride through Palos Verdes, she remembered previous rides and how praying for herself reminded her God was with her—and then she thought about Gloria’s example. So she pedaled and prayed, this time with a new focus.

Gloria Lee

“It was time to climb the long hill that I dreaded, and I got nervous. I immediately started praying for each of our group members. As the incline got steeper, so did the speed of my prayer . . . and I realized my mind was more at peace than ever before, and that I was actually enjoying it.”

Praying in this way, Minnie said, “filled my heart with joy, which energized me to keep going without focusing just on my pain. It was almost as if when I reached the top I was sad that it was over – trust me, that never happened before. I think this was simple proof that when we focus on others in the midst of our pain, God blesses us and gives us the strength to not just get through it, but do even more than our expectations!”

Jeff Jones of Plainwell, Michigan recently ran his first 5K, and credits his small group’s prayers and support with helping “to calm my fears and self doubt that I could do something like this. Because of this group I have been uplifted in many ways including encouragement to live a healthy lifestyle through what I eat and regular exercise.”

“The first day I walked, I prayed first and listened to my local Christian radio station as I walked,” reported Carolyn Isom of Marrieta, Georgia, about her decision to follow Gloria’s model. She logged five miles in an hour and 20 minutes. “It’s been my inspiration every time I walk. “

When an ankle injury forced Louis Smith of Charlotte, North Carolina to slow down from a run to a walk, he found a way to add a few “decades of the rosary. Our small group, as well as all the Saddleback small groups, is included in those prayers.”

Since taking on the plan at full speed, the group’s Daniel Plan health champion Steve Hoffman of Atlanta, Georgia has seen his cholesterol numbers alone come down dramatically and he immediately dropped 16 pounds. A swimmer and mountain biker, Steve recently needed hip surgery. “I went into it more fit, thanks to The Daniel Plan.” And he is recovering nicely.

Also growing and focusing on The Daniel Plan with this group are Geoffrey Shepherd from San Diego and Canadian resident Frank Barbin.

“We believe that the practice of praying for group members’ needs while exercising creates a process that inspires and motivates the individual to persevere with the physical in completing our exercise,” Steve said.

But Wait—There’s More to the Story!

You may have noticed by now that this group is, quite literally, all over the map. That’s because they came together, motivated largely by a desire to improve their health on The Daniel Plan, through Saddleback’s Internet campus.

The group’s members range in age from 30-something to 50-plus, reflecting several ethnicities including caucasian, African American and Asian American. They represent three U.S. time zones as well as from Canada.

Jeff Jones / Minnie Lee

Jeff speaks for many in his group when he says, “I am thankful for my small group and how God is working in all of our lives for better physical and spiritual growth.”

Steve noted that there’s a big hunger out there for those two things. “Thanks to the power of God through the Internet, we’ve become our own Saddleback Church online campus.”

Daniel Plan Tips from the Group

Steve: I have been athletic my whole life and found that the secret to staying fit is consistency. My motto is to “just show up.” I always feel a thousand times better after I’m done.

Gloria: Pray for others when you exercise. Put others’ needs before your own. God will see that you get everything you need.

Minnie: Every endurance training starts with a 20 minute walk/jog on Day One. Just like our faith, focus on the improvements, not perfection, but with the end game in mind… and discover the intricacies of the amazing creation.