"You have to do drills, in order to develop the skills, that you need to be successful."
These are the words I spoke to my daughter after her basketball practice last weekend. She was frustrated about all the drills she has to do during practice. In her mind, it would be much more fun to just play games.
I get where she is coming from. I played hockey from the time I was five until the year I graduated from Bethel University. In those 17 years I went to a lot of practices I didn't enjoy. I'm sure I complained to my parents many times about how much I disliked doing the drills and conditioning.
Thing is, the older I get the more I realize the importance of practice. Sure playing the game is more fun, but what takes time to understand is that the game is more fun when you have mastered the skills in practice. Shooting the game winning free throw only happens after you've shoot thousands of free throws in an empty gym. By doing drills you develop the skills to succeed in the game.
When it comes to the Christian life, the drills are called spiritual disciplines. Disciplines is a scary word, but it is more understandable when you think of it as a drill to develop a skill. The drill of silence and solitude develops the skill of faith and discernment and peace. The drill of Bible reading and gathering for preaching develops the skill of Biblical knowledge and wisdom. The drill of giving and service develops the skill of generosity and contentment. And when these spiritual skills are developed you and I are more likely to experience 'success' in our walk with God.
Practicing spiritual disciplines is no more glamorous than running sprints on the football field or hitting the baseball off the tee. But just like those drills prepare you for the athletic contest, the spiritual disciplines prepare you to live in a way that honors God, brings him glory and make your heart and soul swell up with joy.