Pray & Row

Before showing up at a starting line, one should do at least a little training.  There are countless training plans for every distance that tell you how far, how fast, and how often to run to achieve your goal.  And, they work!  If you stick to the plan, your body will be prepared to meet your goal.  But, physical preparation’s not enough … you have to go mental … in a good way.  If you plan to push your body in a race, PAIN will eventually greet you.  Your body will rebel, saying things like, “you’re an idiot – if you would STOP, the pain would go away,” and “Yep, this is your hamstring barking once more; why are you doing this AGAIN?”  Overcoming the pain and negative thoughts is difficult without training – at least it is for me.  Both mind and spirit must be geared up because they’re capable of combating the body’s resistance and deflecting the hateful names it will hurl at you.  Physical preparation without mental preparation, or vice versa, may get me to the finish, but it takes both to be the best I can be.

. . . train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.  1 Timothy 4:7-8

“Pray & row, sister” – that’s my friend Christina’s fix for many of my ailments, and I think of it often.  We need two oars – one for prayer and one for action – and both require effort and sweat.  I can row until I’m red in the face, and if I’m doing it without God, I’m chasing my sails.  My prayer oar is weak, and I make a lot of decisions and take many actions without sincerely consulting God.  Without prayer and trust in God, how will I accept and find peace with things out of my control?  Likewise, I row in circles by failing to act – relying on a halfhearted request for an answer from God without doing my part to learn about, research, and prayerfully discern His will for the issue at hand.  So, how does one train to pray & row through life?  Well, the timing’s good …. it’s Advent – the perfect time to prepare.  Unfortunately, tomorrow’s the third Sunday of the Season, and time’s ticking.  I need a plan to get to know God better and trust Him more fully – one that prepares me to habitually discuss everything with Him through prayer and trains me to act on educated and thoughtful decisions with conviction.  Each person’s plan is unique, but reading God’s Word, finding quiet moments, and surrounding myself with people who support my training are my basic components.  As with running, the better I am at sticking to the training, the smoother and more prosperous my sailing will be.  It’s never too late to start, and we still have 10 days until Christmas – a perfect time to train!

Dear God, please help me strengthen my prayer life and my ability to discern the actions You want me to take.