This week’s post is an article by my son that appeared in the March 9, 2014, issue of Encounter Magazine. He shares some good thoughts on ways Christians can strengthen their faith through practicing spiritual disciplines.
Often people think that practice doesn’t matter, and that you only need to try in a game, whether the “game” is a sport or the Christian life. I’ve found that you need to try hard during both practices and games. Practice helps you to understand how to win the game.
For example, if you want to be a good soccer player, you have to practice certain skills. One of these is running. In soccer if you’re not constantly running, it’s almost impossible to score. You have to run a lot at times other than the game so that you can build up your stamina.
Second, you have to juggle. Juggling is bouncing the ball off of your feet, thighs, chest, and head without letting it touch the ground. It takes a long time to learn how to juggle. You have to understand how the ball bounces and how heavy it is in order to gauge the strength of your kicks. This teaches you ball control and strengthens your legs so you can play better during games.
Third, you have to practice striking the ball. Unless you strike the ball just right it will curve, go over the target, or just roll a few feet ahead of you. You have to practice a lot in order to get it right.
It’s not just sports you have to work on. You also have to work hard to act like Christ. Acting like Jesus all the time is very difficult. There are things to help you with that too.
One thing you can do is pray. Ask God to give you help and patience, because acting like Christ takes time and effort. However, don’t just sit back and wait. Try to make it happen. Otherwise you are asking for one thing and really wanting it not to happen. Also, pray when things are going well, not just when you’re struggling. Like in soccer, you can’t wait until the game to start running, so you can’t wait until times of trial to start praying.
Second, read your Bible. The Bible explains how you are supposed to live. Without it, you can’t know what God wants you to do. You can only guess and hope you don’t mess up. You can’t wait until someone asks you a difficult question about your faith before you start reading your Bible regularly. You have to practice this discipline. It helps you be strong in your faith.
Third, you need to think about Christ. It’s hard to get angry about someone lying about you or not playing fair in a sports game when you consider how much worse Christ endured.
Finally, we all know what the point of a sports game is, but what is the point of the Christian life?
The answer is easy to say, but hard to do. The point is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. In everything we think, say, and do, we must glorify our LORD. When you’re on a soccer team, the point is to bring glory to the team. When you’re on God’s “team,” the point is to glorify Him.
One of the ways we do this is by telling others about Him. If you really think God is amazing, then you should want to tell others. This isn’t always easy to do, but it gets easier when you try it, or put it into practice.
Another way is to sing His praises. Often, people think that you should just sing loud. I think you should try to sound good. After all, you’re singing to the Creator of the Universe, so you should at least try to sing well. We should give our best to our Savior, not just our loudest! I’m not saying that we have to be perfect. I just think that God deserves the best we can give. This also requires practice. When I play in the Praise Team, I don’t just show up on Sunday morning right before it’s time to start. I practice throughout the week, and I get up early to practice with everyone else. Practice is the only way to give our best to God.
To do well at anything, whether something as unimportant as sports or as crucial as becoming like Christ, we must practice.