“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” - Mathew 5:24 (NIV).
The Olympics are ever fascinating to watch. Over 10,000 athletes from around the world converge at one point in time to race and determine the best of their generation in one of the 400 events. Usually, this comes after years of hard training to capture the Olympic glory. One of the perennial sight of any Olympics is to see the rapturous joy of one who happens to win. But then there is also that pain quite obvious to the one who loses. Some break out in uncontrollable tears, and have to be comforted.
Incidentally, in his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul alluded to what makes a great Olympian. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (I Cor 9:24). Here, Paul, is reminding us never lose sight of the fact that in the Christian life, we are in a race, eagerly expecting a prize, at the end of our earthly journey.
Paul gives us a number of tips quite useful to win this race. First, he points out the importance of discipline. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (vv 25). One cannot expect to win an Olympic medal if they did not devote time to training for their event. This training often involves long and lonely moments in solicitude, but with the hope that years of struggle and self-sacrifice will bear fruits.
Likewise, to be productive the Christian life also involves those quiet and lonely moments of study and reflection, alone with God, which all flowers later in life culminating with the prize of eternal life.
Another equally deserving tip is focus. “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air” (vv 27). Today, one thing we can count on is there is no short of distractions. Our lives are ever increasingly faced with an invasion of all manner of tempting interests, some which once one get locked into, absorb us to a point of addiction.
Here, it could be social media or gambling; but everyone knows that new lure which takes all his time. To win the Christian race, one must be careful to sort out what matters and focus on the real stuff, perhaps best pointed out elsewhere by Paul, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:2).
Prayer for today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, just like an athlete who trains to compete in a race, for the glory of a prize, I pray that you help me focus, train and discipline my life, for the ultimate prize of eternal life, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
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“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”- (Philippians 4:6).
Perhaps you have heard of a certain old magical trade known as mind reading. According to this trade which has been around for millenniums and has its share of tricksters, mind readers are able to discern thought patterns of individuals before they even utter a word. There are places in the world where this, as expected, is a lucrative occupation, with practitioners, often crafty magicians, demanding hefty fees, just to tell thoughts of others.
As Christians, of course, we have an all knowing God, who has said, “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” ( Mathew 6:8). Further, our Lord has pointed out, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” ( Mathew 6:7). As Christians when we come to God, we do so with full confidence, that He already knows our needs and will meet them according to his glorious riches in heaven.
Of particular interest for us here is that while God perfectly knows our needs before we even dare utter a single word, still it is incumbent upon us to make our requests known to Him. A parent may have long noticed a child has a need for a new pair of shoes; but it is another dimension, when the child does come out and share aloud that his pair is worn out, hurting and is quite in need of a new one. The parent takes notice, especially when the matter is presented with such conviction and urgency. This is why Hannah cried out to God for a child ( 1 Samuel 1:9-18).
In our relationship with God, as the Apostle Paul advises us, it is not just enough to assume and let matters be, that after all God knows all our needs, but we too bear a responsibility to make our requests known to Him. Once we are done with that, we let God do His part, allowing “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” ( Philippians 4:7) to flood us.
So, today, do not hold back your needs from the Almighty God. He has paved the way to walk to Him through His son Jesus Christ, to present your case, bear out your heart’s desire, and let Him do His part!
Prayer today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, today I rise to make my requests known to you, knowing you have heard me even before I utter a single word, assured that you will meet each and every one of my needs, according to your glorious riches in heaven!