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Practice Makes Progress

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Gwen Smith

October 11, 2013

Blog, Christian Living, Devotions, Encouragement, Prayer, Worship

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 ball into 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? (Tweet this!) 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? (Another TWEETABLE!) 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’ Name I pray,
Amen.

 

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: 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?

 

FOR YOUR RESPONSE: “Add 10 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 below saying, “I’m in for plus ten!”

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About Gwen Smith


Gwen Smith

I am an unashamed, imperfect worshiper of Jesus Christ. I cling to His goodness to cover my mess and purpose my days to live out the hope of the Gospel. It is my joy and passion to inspire women to live fully in grace and truth. I write books, devotions and songs. I speak. I sing. I worship. I post, pin and tweet. I am intensely in love with the Word of God and believe, wholeheartedly, that the Bible is divinely inspired truth.

  • Cynthia

    “I’m in for plus ten!”

    • http://www.gwensmith.net/ Gwen Smith

      Great! :)

  • fiona

    I’m in for plus ten

    • http://www.gwensmith.net/ Gwen Smith

      Awesome!

  • Joanne Peterson

    I love the phrase “practice makes progress!” I’m in for plus ten.

    • http://www.gwensmith.net/ Gwen Smith

      Me too. ;) Yay!

  • Michelle

    I am in for ten. Giving God ten more is a privilege!
    Wow “practice is progress”, I receive that declaration.
    Thanks

  • Heather Stokes

    Love this!!! “I’m in for plus ten.” And I’m excited!!!

  • Heather Stokes

    I loved most when in the prayer you said, “You’re grace allows me to progress in my faith.” How true I’ve found that to be even more just recently. Thank you. I also love, “Practice makes progress (instead of perfect).” What a powerful statement!!!! :)

  • donna.dbpbd

    I’m in for plus ten!!!!!

  • Jan

    Gwen,

    I absolutely loved your devotional today! The Lord and I have been discussing prayer all week and how we believers take it for granted. It is such a privilege to be able to go into the presence of our Lord and communicate with Him. He has been helping me to see this and realize that we should be doing it so much more than we are (or should I say that I need to be doing it more than I am). I am in for plus ten! Thanks so much!

  • Mary House Massey

    Mary

  • keturah simpson

    Just love this share today! I’m in for 10 but who’s counting right?!! God is showing me that our time doesn’t have to be always 45mins or 10mins but that a quick 3mins in the supermarket queue is just as relevant. As you put it, in our power walks, while doing laundry…etc. Thanks so much!

  • Diane Torres

    I’m in for plus 10

  • Rita

    I’m in for plus ten.

  • Child of the One True King

    I’m Definitely in for Plus 10!!! You can never pray too much!! Love and appreciate your devotionals!!!

  • Olivia

    I’m I for plus ten.

    • Olivia

      Sorry, I need to correct my sentence. I’m In for plus ten

  • Victoria Jusme

    Bless your heart Gwen,you are truly spreading the word of God,thank you so much.I am sooooo in for plus ten.Thank you Jesus!

  • liz

    Im in….GOD knows all things…I need to strengthen my prayer life. ..THANK YOU for this encouragement ….. GOD BLESS.

  • liz

    In for plus 10 …Hallelujah. .

  • Dawn VanVolkinburg

    I’m in for plus ten! Thank you for sharing your great stories!

  • Danielle

    I’m in for plus ten

  • Kelly

    I am for plus ten

  • Amy DeSonia

    I’m in for plus 10!

  • Jerlin Simmons

    I am in the 10 plus team

  • Sayako

    Hi Gwen, I really liked this one because it showed me that I am on fire…..Lol Girlfriend I am pass the number 10. I talk to God through out my day. For the smallest thing to the biggest thing. God is my 24/7 and through doing this conversation with our Heavenly Father my faith as grow by leaps and bounds! I watch TBN channel everyday and I am learning so much on top of what I already know. God is my “first priority” in my life! Nothing comes before our Heavenly Father…And I am witnessing His greatness everyday bu putting Him first. I told a lady one day at my daughter’s school that I pray first thing in the morning everyday and she said her first thing is checking her wall on Facebook…..lol I see where alot of people place prayer second or third or fourth,. But I tell you what if you go to your “friend” more on a regular basis amazing things start to happen…Can I get a Amen…;)

  • Nikki P

    Gwen, You are such a blessing. You don’t know how much this was meant for me to read. It was an honor to meet you at the Bay Leaf Baptist retreat. The Lord spoke to me almost hourly through you and the women of Bay Leaf. Thank you!

  • Linda

    I’m in for ten! For sure.

  • CynFay

    I’m in for plus 10, and your book that I have started recently, Trusting God, has given me good head-start. Thank you for writing that book, it is just what I needed.