Have you ever gone swimming or body surfing out on the beach, only discover after 30 or 40 minutes that you ended up hundreds of feet down-shore from where you started? This is called drift. It wasn’t intentional. It just happened over time as you were overpowered ever so slowly, with subtle consistency, by the tide.
The Christian life can be like that. We get up each morning and conduct business as usual day in and day out and over time we find that we are being influenced, branded and molded by our environment. Paul challenges as in Romans 12:2:
“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”
The ‘Calibration Effect’ of Prayer
This is where prayer comes in. The act of prayer serves as a calibrator. It resets our spiritual body clock. It backs us off a few notches, inviting God to do His work of maintenance as he changes us from the inside out, preparing us for maximum effectiveness. Once accomplished, our life is grounded and intentional and we are ready to step out in faith again.
Spiritual Muscle, Anyone?
But prayer does more than that. It develops within us spiritual muscle. You heard it right, prayer is a spiritual workout that carries amazing benefits for the Christian warrior! It is the anti-dote to spiritual drifting. Prayer is for the Christian what swimming is for the swimmer. Free-style swimming can be be both relaxing and strenuous for the Olympian in training, but it will not leave him the same. Each session further develops his muscles and stamina for the challenges ahead.
Here is a great soliloquy from J. H, Jowett:
“Nothing Comes By Drifting”
“We can never drift into rest. The only people who never find rest are the idle and the indolent. The preparative to rest is labor, and rest only reveals its rich and essential flavors to those who have plodded the ways of toil. It is the men who have lost who find. Rest never visits the idle man, even though he have an easy chair in every room in the house. “Strive to enter into rest.”
We can never drift into joy. The only people who are strangers to joy are the people who shirk every difficulty, and never contend with a troublesome task. It requires a little pressure even to get the juice out of a grape, and it does seem as though the fine juices of life are only tasted where there is a certain stress and strain, a certain pressure, a certain sense of burden and task. The precious juice of joy is never the perquisite of the drifter; it visits the lips of resistance and is the fruit of conquest. “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”; that is the commanding issue of prolonged strife and resistance.
We never drift into strength. Drifting makes no muscle; the muscle is impoverished. The man who drifts with the stream appears to be conserving his strength, while in reality the ease is just the measure of the leakage. It is the man who appears to be expending strength who is really gaining it; the man toiling at the oar and resisting the stream, he acquires the power of the stream he resists. The policy of drifting appears to find, but it loses; the policy of resistance and endurance appears to lose, but it grandly finds. “He that finds his life shall lose it; and he that loses his life for My sake shall find it.”