The locker room can be a smelly and loud place as players get their uniform on, tie their shoes, and get ready, but when the coach comes in before the game, the players draw close.
They know he has important things they need to hear. They know he will quiet the loud locker room chatter and inspire them, motivate them, and get their minds and hearts ready for game time.
“There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer.” – John Wooden
John Wooden is the legendary former coach of the UCLA Bruins, has blessed the world with his wisdom for decades, and has a lot to say about how important it is to prepare our minds and hearts to play a good game and live a good life. He knew that what happened just before the game would affect the players during the game.
Praying before we get in God’s Word gets our minds and hearts “ready for the game.” Before I spend time in His Word, I offer up a brief prayer to prepare my heart. It centers me on Him and gets my focus right.
Here’s a breakdown of what this looks like for me:
II. Pray (5 min)
There have been many times this is a desperate plea for the Lord to hold me, reassure me, or give me hope. David makes similar pleas in Psalm 119:
“I lie in the dust, discouraged; revive me by your Word.” (verse 25)
“I weep with grief; encourage me by your Word.” (verse 28)
“Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your Word.” (verse 37)
As I pray before I read, I confess my sins, ask God to bring to my mind anything I need to confess, and ask for forgiveness. He is such a loving God, overflowing with grace. You do not need to hide anything from Him or be worried there is something in the past you have done that you cannot bring to Him.
He’s seen it all, and He just wants to love you anyway. He is not human, and He will not rub it in your face when you mess up the next time. He is God, and whatever has happened and whatever will happen, was wiped away at the cross. Just bring it to Him, lay it at His feet, and be free of shame.
When you become a believer, you receive the Holy Spirit. One thing the Holy Spirit gifts us with is guidance. Jesus says in John 16:13,
“But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”
I desperately need His guidance. I do not want anything hindering me from the Holy Spirit’s guidance while I’m reading God’s Word. I do not want the condition of my heart to limit the Spirit in any way. Because the Spirit of God is a Holy Spirit, it works most freely in a holy life. If my heart is full of sin, I can “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
If you find it difficult to recognize truths the Spirit is revealing to you, examining your heart is the place to start.
For those of us that flinch when we hear the words “a holy life,” this does not disqualify me when at the end of some days I am feeling anything but holy.
A holy life is not equivalent to a perfect life. We are a work in progress, and His mercies are new for each of us every single morning (Lamentations 3:22-24). Thank you, God, ‘cuz I need it: Every. Single. Morning.
As we seek to know Him more, we will desire to be more and more like our Father and Creator. He ever-so-gently chisels away at our sin, our doubt, our insecurities, all while bringing us closer and closer to Him.
So, this morning, turn from the loud locker room chatter and draw close to the One with the game plan.
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