1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight, not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should not become disqualified. (NKJV)
Run the Race"Why, oh why, did I ever want to run this race?" my husband muttered at about the 10-mile mark in the Honolulu marathon. He was hot, his feet hurt, and people all around him were dropping out of the race. The thing that kept him going was the thought of the "prize"—his wife and kids waiting for him at the finish line, not to mention his life-long goal of running a marathon. Keeping his eye on the prize is what motivated him to complete the race.
The Value of Spiritual Discipline
The physical discipline my husband exercised in order to finish a marathon had value. His health improved because of it. But compared to the importance of running the spiritual race God has set before us, finishing a marathon is of very little value.
Both physical and spiritual exercise make you feel better. But no matter how much you enjoy the exercise, there are going to be some days you just don't feel like doing it. What should you do when that happens? Do it anyway!
Of course, there are times when you'll legitimately have issues that may make it difficult for you to do your normal spiritual routine. You may be sick, or may have company, or may be traveling or perhaps you overslept.
Tips for PerseveringOne thing I've found helpful is to have a "minimum daily requirement" that I can do on even the hardest days. For me, that is listening to one Bible CD. Even if I'm not feeling well, I can listen to the CD while in bed. If I'm running late for work, I can listen to part of the CD while I'm in the shower and finish it in the car as I drive to work. There are days when the only thing I do is put on a Bible CD as I'm drifting off to sleep. Perhaps that isn't ideal, but it keeps me on track with spending time in God's Word daily which is certainly preferable to skipping time in the Word altogether.
Setting a Daily Routine
What about you? Do you have a daily routine for staying in the Word of God and prayer? If not, start one! Set a minimum goal that you know you can do no matter what. That may be listening to a Bible CD like I do, or it may be reading a devotional, or a few verses of Scripture. Pick something you enjoy, and do it daily, even when you don't feel like it. On days when there is more time, add in additional spiritual disciplines such as Bible study and more extended time in prayer and journaling.
Nothing else we do in life matters as much as running the race the Lord has set before us because nothing else lasts for eternity.
Rebecca Livermore is a freelance writer, speaker and contributor for About.com. Her passion is helping people grow in Christ. She is the author of the weekly devotional column Relevant Reflections on www.studylight.org and is a part-time staff writer for Memorize Truth (www.memorizetruth.com). For more information visit Rebecca's Bio Page.