Anyone who has ever played high school or college football knows what it is to suit up. You get taped, you get on your pads, you put on the uniform, and, of course, you put on your game face. But that is only part of preparation for battle. There is the preparation of training and conditioning that allows an athlete to perform at the highest possible level. There is also the mental preparation because you have to have a strategy and you must be prepared to implement that strategy. You also need to have (in team sports) a mutual commitment to working together for success and a shared ownership of the results of your efforts. Getting ready for battle is a huge part of sports competition.
This is also true in the spiritual realm, where we are engaged in a battle as well. We also begin with training—learning to know our God and having our hearts strengthened by His Word and by fellowship with Him. We must also prepare by making sure we have our gear squared away—gear referred to by Paul as the “whole armor of God” in Ephesians 6:
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:14-17)
Every piece of our spiritual armor has a specific and vital role. Notice however, that he ends with a reference to prayer as our ultimate piece of gear:
“…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” (Eph. 6:18)
Without the resource of prayer, we will never be fully ready for battle. We also need a gameplan and that is set forth in the scriptures. So, we have spiritual training, armor, prayer, and the Bible. Yet, there is still more. Finally, we have a team—the Body of Christ that we work with to implement God’s strategy for effective living. And that strategy is empowered by our partnership with the Father, Son, and Spirit as well. Join us tomorrow on Sports Spectrum radio as we take a further look at the need for spiritual preparation as we face the challenges of life.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain