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Spiritual Training Cycle: Unity (wk. 6/13)

There’s something unique about watching a coach and an athlete. I was out of town recently and dropped in to train at another CrossFit gym. Instead of being focused on my own athletes, I got to sit back and watch another coach focus on hers. It didn’t take long to see that she shares the same goal with her athletes as I do. It’s all about relationship. I coach about 40-50 athletes each week, and I have a special bond with each of them. Over time, we build trust with one another. They come to know that I care about them, that I want them to achieve great things in life, and that they are supported by me in their pursuit of fitness. I help athletes grow in three primary ways: coaching, correction, and conversations.

Conversations form the fabric of a relationship.

Sometimes our conversations focus on getting to know one another, especially when an athlete is new. I like to find out where they’re from and hear about their dreams and goals. I also like to hear about their past athletic experiences or if they’ve got any previous injuries. As we grow together in our relationship, conversations shift to learning to trust each other. We’ll start to talk about vulnerabilities or fears or doubts. I’ll share some of mine with them, so they know I struggle too. We’re all working on something! And then as the relationship grows, we grow together. I know when to push and when to back off. We can both give each other feedback and it’s well received. None of this would happen without conversations because they form the fabric of a relationship.

The same is true in our relationship with God. Only instead of calling them conversations, we call them prayers. Prayer is our way of communicating with God. Just like we talk with our friends and loved ones, we talk with God the same way, but through prayer. I bet for many of you, your first introduction to prayer was before a meal. See, I know you! That was my first introduction too. When we used to visit my grandparents on Sundays, they would pray before the meal. Then one day, out of nowhere, my grandpa announces to the table that his grandson will be praying. I was like seven years old and scared out of my mind. Even though I had heard these so-called prayers, I committed none of them to memory. Instead, I often prayed during the prayer that it would end so I could eat. Grandma’s fried chicken you know. Luckily, on the wall just behind the table hung a little sign. And while everyone else closed their eyes and bowed their heads, I strained hard to look over grandpa’s head and uttered the words I saw: good bread, good meat, good gosh, let’s eat. And I threw a little amen in at the end!

I’m laughing as I reflect on that moment, and I think God probably smiled as well. But you know what it was? It was the beginning. And even though I wouldn’t pray much more over the next 32 years, God was patiently waiting for me to start a conversation with Him. And when I did, it was much like the conversations athletes have with me. I told God about my dreams and my goals. I told Him about my past and what I regret and what I’ve learned. I asked Him for help to overcome my fears and doubts. I even asked Him to teach me why I feel so messed up sometimes. Although my conversations with God have changed over time, I still talk to Him every day. I’ll leave you with a really practical question. What kind of relationship do you have with people you don’t talk to? The answer is none. If your goal is a deep and meaningful connection to God, stop waiting for the right words, the right moment, or the right meal. Open you heart and start with some conversations.

Reflection Questions

What kinds of conversations do you have with God most often?

What gives you confidence that God hears your prayers?

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