October 11, 2013
Practice Makes Progress
In the night, LORD, I remember your name, that I may keep your law. This has been my practice: I obey your precepts. You are my portion, LORD; I have promised to obey your words.
Friend to Friend
I’m a sporty girl – always have been. I love to power walk and keep fit. I grew up playing lots of different athletic games – from basketball to softball – but volleyball has always been my sport of choice. I just love the game. I love the quick pace, the strength and agility demands, and the team component of the matches.
In college, I had the opportunity to play volleyball, and now that I’m a mom I coach my daughter’s team. I’ve been around this game for more than twenty-five years and I’ve spent more time on the court, on the sand, and on the grass playing and practicing than most people ever will. You’d think that after all the hours invested I’d have the game perfected by now, right? Not hardly.
There are still times when I shank a pass – when it flies off my arms wildly in the wrong direction. I still have spike attempts that send the ballinto the net instead of over the net. There are still times when I miss a serve. Each mistake frustrates me. Seriously. I’m competitive and I hate to lose. I hate to make mistakes and I almost always think I should’ve played better than I actually did. No matter how much I’ve grown as a player since I first picked up a volleyball, I’ve come to realize that when I step on the court there will always be frustrating shanked passes that fly off my arms and there will always be opportunities for me to grow and progress in my skills. Simple as that.
And you know what? I’ve found the same to be true in my prayer life.
Do you remember that old saying “practice makes perfect?” Well, I think it’s a bunch of beans! I recently heard a phrase that better represents the reality of growth and development: practice makes progress. Whether we’re talking about our development as athletes, as students, as a wives, as employees, or simply as women of faith – specifically, as women of prayer – we are all purposed for growth until we die.
The truth that the apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 7 still remains: we don’t do what we should do and we do what we shouldn’t. Whew! I can so relate. Prayer, I'm afraid, is one of the “don't dos” for many of us. We all seem to know how important it is to trust God with our burdens, but many of us neglect this important discipline.
Do you ever go the phone before you go to the throne? Yeah – me too. There are times when I fail to trust God with my prayers. And though I’ve been faith-walking with Him a long time, there are still a million ways that I need to grow. There will always be ways for us to grow and there will always be mistakes for us to work through.
Our relationship with God will grow as we continually turn to Him in prayer. Similarly, our trust in God grows as our relationship with Him grows. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you,” (John 15:15). Jesus counts us as his “friends”. How many of us would talk to our close friends as infrequently as we talk to Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer?
Of course, it's not like we can ignore the world around us and pray 24/7. Right? We are still going to go to work, have playtime, time with friends and family, but in the midst of it all, Scripture instructs us to: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Our practice of this continual praying life will increase our progress in faith and in trusting God. This can translate into prayers of thankfulness and petition during our power walks, our time in the carpool line, while we wash our laundry and our lunch breaks. We can redeem these times to thank God for and pray for our children, our careers, our futures, our marriages, our trials and our challenges. When we “do life” with God – when we exercise this spiritual discipline of continuous prayer – our faith grows. It helps us to trust Him more.
Jesus was the only perfect man and He turned to our Father continually. He gave thanks for food when He prayed over the loaves and fishes that became a miracle (Matthew 14:16-21), He took his sorrows to God in the garden before His massacre (Matthew 26:39), He prayed for His friends (John 17:6-19), for Himself (John 17:1-5) and for future believers (John 17:20-26). Jesus also modeled how we should pray (Luke 11:1-13), and taught about prayer (Matthew 6:5-15). If Jesus, the God of the Universe, saw prayer as such an important part of the Christian life, why do we sometimes overlook the importance of it? We need to make time to turn to Him and trust Him with our daily concerns, big and small.
A strong volleyball team is one that relies on each other in the game. As Christians, we have the advantage. We have God on our team. And with God on our team, we cannot fail. Seriously. If God is for us, who can stand against us? We just need to talk to Him and trust him, rather than trying to play the game of life on our own. We have to remember that practice makes progress! We will learn to trust as we practice trusting the Lord through prayer.
Dear God, That You would choose to call me friend is simply amazing! Thank you that though I’m not perfect, your grace allows me to progress in faith! Please forgive me for the times when I go about my day and “do life” without You. Help me to continuously pray and to trust You with my burdens.
In Jesus’s Name I pray,
Now It’s Your Turn
How would you rate your prayer life on a scale from 1-10?
Where would you like your prayer life to rank on that same scale?
Are you willing to do anything about it? If so, what? If not, why?
Add 10 GiG Challenge: For one week, I challenge you to add 10 minutes of prayer each day to your normal prayer routine? Will you do it? Yes? Make it public! Leave a comment/commitment on my blog or my Facebook page saying, “I’m in for plus ten!”
More from the Girlfriends
C.S. Lewis said this of prayer, “Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine.” As you embark to progress in this prayer discipline, I encourage you to move from confession, to adoration, to thanksgiving and end with your petitions (personal prayer needs).
NEED SOME SOUL REST? Download Gwen's CD, Uncluttered. The songs of Uncluttered will remind your soul to breathe worship as they focus your heart on Jesus. You can download the songs from iTunes or Amazon– or order the CD on www.GwenSmith.net.
Today’s GiG devotion is an excerpt from Trusting God, A Girlfriends in God Faith Adventureby Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith and Mary Southerland. This is the perfect book for individual study or for gathering a group of friends in what we call GiG Groups. With impactful devotions, study questions, journal pages, free on-line video intros, and this book is a resource you’ll refer to time-and-time again.
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