From a new Series, The Daniel Plan, Activated by activprayer
FOCUS in the Daniel Plan
“The plan you will read about in this book is really quite simple. Dedicate your body to God.”
That’s how Pastor Rick sums up what the Daniel Plan is all about. Dedicated. Set apart, consecrated, reserved for a special use. That’s the goal. How? Our mission is to help you discover precisely that.
This article will give you some simple, practical tips that will help you improve your FOCUS in the Daniel Plan by utilizing some of the basic principles of activprayer. This work is dedicated to you: “that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 2)
Dedication with Focus
In the Daniel Plan book, Pastor Rick used the first page to make a dedication. In fact, he dedicated the book to you. His hope and prayer was that the book inspires you to begin your journey toward health – and that you experience a whole new level of wellness. Beautiful words.
But what if, after he wrote them, Pastor Rick got up from his desk, made himself a double chocolate cake and became a couch potato for the next six months? What if he only wrote half-heartedly when he had nothing better to do? Well, we think it’d be fair for you to call into question the sincerity of his dedication! How he was writing the book
wouldn’t reflect or honor the dedication he made. No focus, no dedication. A dedication dies quickly without it.
Lucky for all of us, Pastor Rick didn’t do that. Instead, he prepared with intention, he acted with excellence, and he shared the gift of his inspired action with us so that we could reap the good fruits of the discovery and community of wellness that took shape at Saddleback Church.
action. We believe that it’s the act of fitness, the act of eating, and the act of serving others that ultimately gives shape and flavor to our lives. What we do is important, but why we do it and how we do it are the ingredients that turn ordinary action into an activprayer. We want to share with you a few of the lessons we’ve learned about the role of focus in making every action matter.
Renew Your Mind
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay…” (2 Cor 4:7)
It seems odd that modern fitness focuses primarily on the fragile jar of clay rather than the treasure inside, doesn’t it? If you had a clay jar with a precious gift inside, would you spend each day dusting the jar while the gift inside atrophied? Of course not!
It wasn’t always like this. Even the Greeks and the Romans viewed sports and physical activity primarily as education and training in virtue: building mental strength, fortitude, courage, temperance, humility, and every spiritual value. What happened to the body was very much a secondary benefit. They played, and fitness happened.
Focusing on what is happening in our interior lives first simply means that we recognize the primacy of the Spirit at work in us. We value the treasure more than the jar of clay. We care more about character than calories. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we don’t care about our bodies – they’re a precious gift. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that every single bodily movement starts with a movement of the soul. Every bodily function is possible because of the spirit within. When you take the spirit out of a body, you have a corpse. Is that motivation enough?
Renewing our minds involves caring about our thoughts and perceptions at least as much (and hopefully more!) than we care about whether or not we gained a few pounds last month or ate that second piece of pie for dinner. They’re intimately related, though. Every thought we have – and we have between 50,000-70,000 every day – is a movement analogous to a bodily movement, but it’s an interior movement. Every single action starts with an interior movement and ends up as bodily movement. There is no action without desire! And so the key to renewing your action and giving it life and spirit is to first renew your mind. Get the inner acts right, and the outer acts will follow.
One of the useful ways to do that in the activprayer approach is to simply make time for silence and preparation. The mind isn’t renewed during action, but during those times when we recollect ourselves – literally “re-collecting” pieces of ourselves that we may have jarred loose during the course of the day. We allow God’s word and spirit to renew and enlighten our minds so that we can act with all of the intention, inspiration, and purpose that we were created for.
Every single act in activprayer is “sandwiched” between a Preparation stage and a Share stage. During these stages, there is recollection on what it is we’re about to do and what it is that we did so that we’re not jut acting (that’s activ-ism, which is rampant) but acting in a way that is aligned with our ultimate purpose in life. And that’s inspired.
Here are some concrete ways to make the Prepare and Share stages as effective as possible:
- Write down a dedication or activWord and meditate on it
- Share your dedication or inspired actions with friends and family
- Spend at least 1 minute in silence before you start a dedicated action
- Prepare an environment that elevates: music, lighting, scents – all five senses
- Try to have a partner in action – the Spirit is present in a special way
It’s our sincere hope that these words might lead you to take the inspired actions that only you know you’re called to take. There’s something sacred in every act that expresses the mystery hidden within: it bears the marks of Christ. In Him, the Word took flesh. May you not allow these words to stay on this page!