By Rev. John Maempa
Sports enthusiasts are familiar with coaches and players calling for time-outs at strategic moments in the game. By definition, a time-out is a halt in the play. This allows the coaches of either team to communicate with their players to determine strategy or inspire morale. A time-out can also give players a much-needed break from intense physical activity. Time-outs are important to the success of the team.
We need time-outs in everyday life as well. The apostle Paul often employed the analogy of running a race to the life of a Christian. “If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me” he wrote in Acts 20:24. Toward the end of his journey, he said, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Then there are the familiar words by the writer of Hebrews in 12:1, “Let us throw off everything that hinders…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Life often seems like a race. It’s fast-paced, intense, and demanding. That’s why time-outs are necessary. Jesus understood the need for those during His earthly ministry. In the Gospels we find references to Jesus going up onto a mountainside to pray. On one occasion, He went by boat to a “solitary place.”
Prayer and meditation are important ways to take time-outs. Like in the sports arena, it can be a time to get instructions from the Coach. It can be a time to be refreshed and encouraged by the presence of the Holy Spirit. And, sometimes, whether we pray or not, it’s good to just get away from the frenetic pace and take a walk in a peaceful place, enjoying the beauty of nature. These can be recharging and refreshing times. Be sure to set aside time on a regular basis for prayer and also take those moments for solitude. It’s not wasted time.
Prayer: O, Lord God, thank You for those times of refreshing that we can have in prayer and in our times of solitude. Help all of us to know when a time-out is needed. May we be careful to take those moments and allow Your presence to encourage and strengthen us. And may we also be careful to listen to Your instructions so that we’ll be better prepared to handle the tasks and opportunities before us. Amen.
Rev. John Maempa is director of the Office of Prayer & Spiritual Care for the General Council of the Assemblies of God. To learn more about the OPSC, visit www.prayer.ag.org.