By Dale Erickson
Most of us enjoy some kind of hobby, sporting event or pastime. For some it’s football, soccer, running, skiing or some other athletic challenge. For others it could be music, playing card games, becoming a master gardener, scrapbooking, or any of a great variety of other enjoyable pursuits. Whatever your personal preference, we all find gratification in pursuing our passions. One of my passions has been participating in and watching many different kinds of sports.
There may have been times when you have cheered for or against the Broncos in the Fiesta Bowl or the Vandals in the Idaho Potato Bowl. The truth is, there is something in our hearts that is drawn towards identifying ourselves with a team or a local hero. We gain some satisfaction in celebrating “our” victories or mourning “our” losses. It’s easy enough to “join the team” by buying a T-shirt, watching on the television, or buying a season ticket; but there is a huge difference between cheering from the stands and playing on the field. In my lifetime I have cheered from the stands, sat on the bench, and been in the game. Without a doubt, being in the game was far more fulfilling.
The Christian life can be a little like “Bronco Nation.” Coach Bryan Harsin is quick to tell us that “Bronco Nation” (i.e., the fan base) is critical to the team’s success, but we all know that the game is ultimately won or lost on the field. Gallup polls reveal that only 1 out of 3 Christians attends church every week and that only 1 out of 10 attends more than one church-related activity in a week. This means that only a small percentage of Christians make active participation in their church a priority. I believe there are several possible reasons for this.
- There are only a few Christians who have known the intense joys and sorrows of being a “player” on the team.
- Church leadership has accepted a culture that creates fans rather than players. Preparing players involves conditioning, training, and practice time. Being in the game involves more than just sitting in the stands and cheering.
- Some people believe they are never meant to be “players.” They believe that they lack the talent or some other missing element to “play.”The truth is that God has given each of us a special ability so that we can be an active and vital part of the team.
- Many Christians really want to be a player. They desperately wish they could participate more, but the pressures of life present a great challenge.
If you’re ready to step onto the playing field, one of the very first steps will be connecting with a coach. They will likely place you into some kind of training regimen. They may ask you to come to some practice sessions. You will have to trust them. You will have to believe that their input (and your effort) will actually bring out the best in you.
I encourage you this Sunday to find a church that will let you get on to the field of play, or at least help you with the spiritual conditioning, training and practice time needed to prepare you to get in the game.
A vital element of not being a “spectator Christian” would be connecting with God through prayer. The disciples understood that when they asked Jesus to teach them to pray. He was more than willing and it started with a template prayer that we now call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Wouldn’t it be great if our next generation could discover some contemporary answers to the disciple’s request in Luke 11:1-2? My hope is that every young person and everyone who is young at heart says: “Lord, teach us to pray.” It was a great thing for them to ask back then and it still is today. I encourage you to do it because it will enrich your life. Do it for the love of the game!
Pastor Dale Roy Erickson understands and lives out the importance of prayer in his individual life and in the corporate life of the church. He is established as a gifted and creative teacher who carefully studies and presents the truth of God’s Word. He is the president of Prayerful Publishing, Inc., publishers of the Teach Us To Pray curriculum, Heaven Help Us books, and the Prayer Prompts Calendar, which has been downloaded for free in over 80 countries. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://www.prayerfulpublishing.com for more information.