You are an Athlete and Your Sport is Prayer
What Manner of Prayer is This? – Part 3
You are an athlete and your sport is prayer, that makes you a pray-er. All athletes are disciplined in their training. If you want to win, or in our language get to the next level, then you will need to be disciplined in your training as a prayer athlete. Let’s think of prayer as exercise. Exercise is the execution of a routine or workout. In prayer, praying in what we call a manner is likened to a workout. It’s like having a routine to follow or a pattern to guide us. When one executes a workout plan, there are generally two main components: 1) the time per workout and 2) the number of days in the workout.
A normal person understands this when it comes to a physical workout, but rarely considers it in a spiritual workout like in prayer. If you’re going to become skilled in prayer, then you’ll need to do whatever it takes to get to your next level. As a next level pray-er, I want to use these two workout components to help you achieve greatness.
Timed Prayer Workouts
What would your prayer time look like if you considered the time per workout? In next level prayer, we rarely want to turn our attention to normal behavior, but we must in order to take it up a level. Based on what we’ve normally seen in prayer, a beginner’s workout would be around 0-5 minutes in prayer. For an intermediate pray-er, one might have a prayer time that’s anywhere between 5-15 minutes. By the way, I’m being very modest when it comes to these assessments. That’s not to say that an intermediate pray-er doesn’t or can’t use a beginner’s workout as it relates to prayer. For the advanced level prayer workouts, one might be expected to have a prayer time that’s greater than 15 minutes. I use these intervals only to express this idea to help you get to the next level. If you’re struggling to pray for five minutes, that’s a sign that there is a problem and a sign that next level prayer is much needed. What kind of believer who loves to spend time in the presence of God struggles with spending 5 minutes in prayer? Let that sink in for a moment. It’s questions like this that motivate Pamela and me to teach, write, and practice this next level content.
Before you feel inclined to have a rebuttal, I’ve already had such rebuttals. I get it, our prayers shouldn’t be timed nor should we limit ourselves to these times, I totally agree. That’s why I don’t like to think in normal terms. Please don’t hear what I’m not saying in this way. Here’s what I wish to convey. Being that you’re an athlete in prayer, if you are today at only 3 minutes of prayer and stay there, then you show no signs of improvement. No signs that you’ve gone to the next level. If you remain at your current level of 10 minutes of prayer then what are you missing when you’re not growing. You already know how I feel about timed prayers. [See our message on praying for an hour.] I believe that your experiences in prayer should be so great and enjoyable that you always run out of time talking, listening, and interacting with God. If this isn’t how your prayer workout looks and feels, then you can stand to take your exercise of prayer to the next level.
Levels of Workout Plans
What would your prayer time look like if you considered the number of days you spend in a certain type of workout? Allow me to explain. For a beginner, a workout plan of 1-2 days is their limit. After this, the beginner may quit, give up, think it’s too much, or say why is this necessary. An intermediate pray-er, may be good for 2-4 days. An intermediate pray-er, says I’m going further than I’ve gone in the past, or now is a part of a group doing this workout together, in other words having some type of accountability. An advanced pray-er will exceed 4 days. An advance pray-er is one of those rare individuals who you can’t stop from praying. Please don’t hear what I’m not saying because that would be a normal response. I am not saying that you have to pray every day in a row and never miss a day. What I am saying is that you should not want to miss a day to pray, if you enjoy it. In order to enjoy this exercise we call prayer, we will have to take it to the next level.
Back to the workout plans. You should have plans for the majority of your prayer time. You are meeting with the owner of You, Inc. A planned prayer workout has preset objectives and may include various routines such as, but not limited to, fasting, warm ups with intense prayer, making requests, simply having an intentional discussion, asking questions, learning from reflecting over one’s life, and even some form of cool down routines.
Allow me to give you a real-life example. Each year, Pamela and I have a time of prayer and fasting that lasts for 21 days. That’s an advanced level pray-er workout. Week one (day 1-7) is dedicated to getting into the routine of this new habit. Week two (day 8-14), is dedicated to being completely immersed in the process and being intentional about what we’d like to accomplish in this workout. Week three (day 15-21) is our time of ending the workout smoothly and preparing for coming out of this rigorous routine back into some version of pre-workout living. The takeaway here is this. Have a plan for prayer. You are a prayer athlete and it takes a regular discipline of working out in prayer if you desire to be a next level pray-er.
We’re always inspired by great athletes, like Serena Williams. The truth is Serena is no longer an ordinary tennis player and hasn’t been ordinary in many years. Why? She’s devoted her life, day in and day out, to mastering her craft, her sport. Why is Serena Williams viewed as an exceptional athlete? Do we think it’s just skill alone that’s gotten her to her position as one of the greatest tennis players of all times? It’s not and to become the best you, even when it comes to prayer, will take more than just skill and skill only. To become extraordinary you must be willing to do what the ordinary person doesn’t. If you want uncommon results in prayer, then you’re going to have to put in some uncommon work, some uncommon practices, some uncommon exercises. You’re going to need an uncommon manner in which you pray. This is next level prayer.
Question: do you view your prayer time as important as a professional athlete sees their exercise routines?