It is embarrassing to admit but I often make the effort to exercise because of guilt. I know the positive reasons to run (good exercise, feeling good, sleeping better, ect.) but avoiding the negative reasons are also a motivator (tend to be grumpy, slower mind, tension, ect.). Someone once told me that we use different methods to motivate ourselves and others and few folks fall into a single area. Using the negative approach on oneself takes humility (which sadly sounds a lot like humiliation!). I prefer looking at the Latin root humilis, meaning “lowly, humble”, literally “on the ground” or humus, which literally means “of the earth.” In any case, when I am tough on myself and even shame myself a bit (Is is really better to watch another episode of 24 than to run?), I can get out of the rut and out on the road. It is a mind trick but effective, much like setting my clock five minutes ahead.
My relationship with God operates in a similar way. When the desire to pray is low, I try to motivate myself in any way that I can. I typically ask for willingness and start with being lowly and meek, recognizing my dependence on Him. With my pride and laziness out of the way, I am more open to listening and being guided or prompted by the Spirit. Humility does not mean that I have to pretend that I’m useless or without talents. Rather, it means authentically looking at the whole me, that is, the good and bad. I then give thanks for the blessings and ask forgiveness or help with the bad. This little spiritual exercise is healthy, I believe, despite the guilt that at times has to kick it into gear.