PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.
Gymnastics are fun to watch, in person or on television. It's amazing to watch athletes balance and swing on the rings. It's exciting to watch them spin and whirl on the "horse." It's thrilling to watch them turn and twirl on the parallel bars. It's stirring to watch them tumble and spring during the floor exercises.
When you watch the best in the world, like at the Olympics, you'll often see the athletes perform an interesting exercise long before their turn in front of the judges and the cameras. You may see it before they get to the arena, before they come out of the dressing room, or while they're on the bench waiting for their turn to compete. But if you look closely, you'll discover that just about all of them do it. You'll see them close their eyes, lean one way and then the other, slightly arch their backs, twist their hips, kick their legs, or move their arms. The movements are almost imperceptible you have to look closely to even see them.
What are they doing? They're practicing. Not the kind of practice they do for years to get good enough to compete in the Olympics repeating flips, jumps, and moves hundreds of times until they can do them better than almost everyone else in the world. No, they are practicing their routines or jumps in their minds. They rehearse everything they plan to do as if they were actually doing it, remembering all the words of instruction their coaches have given them. They "practice" with their eyes closed so that they will be ready for their time to compete.
We need to do something similar as Christians. We need to spend time with our eyes closed. We need to go through the routine of our day and think about what we may have done wrong in the past that we need to get right today. We need to remember the words of our Coach (God) and prepare ourselves for the obstacles and opportunities we may face today. As we pray, we need to remember that we have an advantage that earthly coaches don't provide: Our coach is almighty. He can give us the power to win.
REFLECT: How many days a week do you spend time with your eyes closed (in %prayer)? Two? Three? Four? More? Less? What do you think would happen if you treated every day like an Olympic event by starting with ten or fifteen minutes of prayer to prepare yourself for that day's obstacles and opportunities? Do you think it would be easier or harder to make right choices throughout the day? Explain.
PRAY: "Lord, help me to start every day with my eyes closed and my mind turned toward you."