Years ago, a student who had graduated from the Christian high school where I taught shared that she was struggling with her faith. “Don’t you ever wonder if it’s all a hoax?” she asked. “I’ve gone to Christian schools my whole life, but I haven’t been to church in three months, and I rarely pray anymore. I just don’t feel very close to God.”
This student had been a basketball all-star during high school, so I inquired as to what had made her such a good player. In addition to having natural talent, she mentioned that she practiced hard. In fact, she practiced her basketball skills pretty much every day to keep them intact.
“Maybe you’re just getting spiritually flabby,” I proffered.
We’ve all probably experienced feelings like my student at times. And the first thing we often want to do is to stop practicing—skip church, put our Bibles in a drawer, stop praying. But just like we can’t stay physically fit without regularly working out, the same holds true for our spiritual fitness. And we all know that the longer we stay away from Gold’s Gym or from God’s gym, the harder it gets to go back.
Part of my student’s success was due to her coach, who knew her potential and encouraged her relentlessly. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).