Four Steps to Improve in the Sport of Prayer
The End Is Just The Start of It All – Part 3
Like any exercise routine, the more you do it, the easier the workout moves become. You can finally keep up with your trainer and can anticipate the next routine. That’s what prayer is like. I call it the exercise of prayer. The more you do it, the better you become at it. You will no longer look for words to say or need a reminder to pray. It must become a habit in order to increase its effectiveness.
You have to admit that when you complete a physical workout, you feel like you have achieved something. The same is true when you go through your prayer workouts. You feel like Heaven has heard you. In fact, you know that Heaven’s heard you because of the responses you receive. Your Heavenly trainer is next to you giving you instructions, encouragement, motivation, and support.
“Prayer is a spiritual exercise; the more you do it the stronger you get spiritually.” ChurchForAll.org 1
The New Testament says that as friends, we are to build ourselves up in our faith by praying. 2 In other words, use our prayer exercise to build ourselves up. Instead of body-building, we faith-build. We build ourselves in ways that aren’t common, ordinary, or average. We motivate, inspire, affirm, and equip ourselves. We use prayer as an exercise that builds.
As a body-builder, there are practices that help one sculpt and shape one’s body. A body-builder, uses free weights, performs exercise movements, has a regular program, has a training regimen, works on specific muscle groups at a time, gradually increases the weight, etc.
As a faith-builder, what are your practices? When you pray what type of regiment do you have? What prayer program have you created for yourself? What areas are you addressing in your life with regularity so that you don’t miss an area? How are you building your faith? Are you increasing your level of faith? Are your results improving? Do you have a way to measure your faith-building results?
The Process of Faith-Building
Let’s talk about the process of faith-building.
As we take just a second, to think back to Nehemiah and how we’ve learned to defend our actions taken from prayer, we will now take a more offensive approach to prayer. In the previous lesson, we talked about defending your prayer. In this lesson, we show you that having a good offensive strategy adds to how you defend your prayer effects. Since prayer is an exercise then the offensive strategy is using such an exercise to better ourselves and get into spiritual-shape.
How can we get better since prayer is an exercise?
Pamela and I were invited to a high school basketball game and reflecting on the game itself, it taught me a lesson about prayer. Indulge me for a moment as I expound on the process it takes for one to become better at the game of basketball. It revealed to me the process to become better in prayer.
Step 1 – Preparing for the sport.
No matter how good you may be, if you don’t prepare to become a basketball player, you’ll never be as good as you can. You need some gear, equipment, tools, and appropriate attire. You can not be dressed out like a football player and perform at the greatest level that you can playing basketball. Whether you start on the court or ride the bench, you need to look like you’re an athlete on the team and ready to play the game. You’ll need to attend practice and workout regularly. This is all a part of preparation. There is more prep-work that goes into it than game time play. This is what it looks like to be No-Longer-Common, you can’t just do enough to get by, you have to put in more work than the average; you have to be better prepared than an average player.
As a person who prays, are you prepared, equipped, and ready to get in the game? Most are not for a number of reasons. I’m afraid that you’ll need a Bible if you want to be the best at this sport. You’ll probably need to be a part of the faith community if you’re going to be any good at it. You might even want to read up on a few prayer regimens. Are you prepared for faith-building? As a person of faith, you don’t get to just do enough to get by. Average has no place when it comes to prayer.
Step 2 – Participate in the game.
I really wanted to say play in a game, but I realize not everyone will touch the ball. This is important, even though one might not touch the ball doesn’t mean they are not on the team. It doesn’t mean they don’t have to workout and practice with the teammates who do touch the ball. Oh no. They still have to do all of it. They will be in the locker room at halftime with the rest. They’ll get a trophy along with those who started. While I’m here, even if you sit on the bench, you still have to find a way to overcome average if you want to be the best on the sideline.
As a person of prayer, you must participate in the game if you want to get better at prayer. You have to show up for prayer. Yes, show up. It’s not going to happen on its own. You’re going to have to get out of the bed, find a place to focus, and participate in the exercise. Exercising doesn’t happen in bed. There’s a place to exercise. You must get dressed for exercise. You have to have a workout when you exercise.
There’s a famous story about a man named Jabez. Up until. Say that with me. Up until, he decided to do what the others (his friends, family, neighbors) wouldn’t do and participated in the exercise of prayer, his life was normal, maybe even less than average. Once he got pressed and began the exercise of prayer, his life shifted from average to exceptional. 3 Are you dressed out for prayer, but not participating in the game?
Step 3 – Play each game as if it were the championship.
Don’t ever think that one game wins the championship. Each game is the championship game.
There’s an important principle that says don’t look towards the championship. You might not focus on the game that you’re in. Just because you are in the playoffs doesn’t guarantee that you will win the championship. When you stop focusing on the present game, this is when you begin to lose the championship you’ve not even made it to, to play. If you want to lose the championship underestimate the team you have right in front of you.
As a person of prayer, you can’t win in prayer if you don’t tackle the present obstacles. In other words, prayer builds upon prayer. I’m certain that when Jabez prayed and saw results, he didn’t stop that day. No, why would he stop doing the thing that changed his life? Who in their right mind would pray, God answers you and you quit? If you want to no longer see results stop participating in the exercise that got you in view of your championship. The uncommon play each game as if it were the championship.
Step 4 – Revisit “the goal” every day.
Remember the goal is the championship.
The average athlete plays their sport without having the goal of winning the championship; they’re simply just playing. However, an exceptional athlete has one thing on his mind. Not two, Not three. One. The goal of winning the championship.
You must stay committed to the above steps in order to achieve the goal. Why get dressed out? Why practice? Why participate in any games? Why remain present with each opponent? If you’re not after the championship, why are you playing the sport?
Many times people go into prayer with no hope of ever getting the type of answers that only God can give. In other words, if you’re praying for your loved one who has COVID19, then you need to remind yourself that you want to see this virus gone from them. If you’re not after the championship, why then are you playing in any games. Why did you act like you were going to pray, a prayer? Let me remind you, you’re after the championship! The goal is for the big victory.
I once heard it said that life is compounding. Whatever you’re doing is compounding. You get better at it. If you continue on the track of being average, life compounds on your and you’ll get better at being average. To change this compounding in your favor is to implement simple discipline. Example. Since we’re speaking of exercising prayer, you have to establish your own simple discipline. Simple things like placing an index card on your mirror reminds you to pray about whatever you deem is worth placing on that index card. After you do this day after day, like running laps or shooting free-throws in basketball. You begin to compound in this area and become a better athlete in the sport of prayer.
Question: what simple discipline can you start today to become a better athlete in the sport of prayer?
Thanks for visiting NoLongerCommon.com where our goal is simple. We want to help you achieve greatness because ordinary is no longer enough. For you would, share this message with a friend or two.[note note_color=”#E3EAEE” text_color=”#060A09″]My book, When Ordinary is No Longer Enough, is now in print. Not only can you get a free downloadable version by subscribing to our email list, but you can also get a printed version for only $9.99. Click here to get your copy.
Reference #1: Wall, Dean 90 Days to More Faith, Freedom and Victory: Bible Devotions to Change Your Life. Oklahoma: CFA Publications. 2009.
Reference #2: Jude 1:20-21 MSG, Bible.com, accessed November 25, 2020, https://www.bible.com/bible/97/JUD.1.20.MSG
Reference #3: 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NLT, Bible.com, accessed November 25, 2020, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/1CH.4.9-10.NLT
All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.