Have you noticed what a huge business the leisure industry has become these days? A couple of guys out for a ride on their bikes passed me recently. They were like the lead group from the Tour de France. Apparently you can't cycle down the road on a push bike now unless you're wearing fluorescent latex and covered with advertising.

You can pay a hundred quid for a pair of running shoes. Mountaineering gear can run into four figures. We've come a long way from the early pioneers who climbed the Matterhorn in a sports jacket and a duncher, haven't we?

At the end of the day however, all the fancy gear in the world won't make you into a top class athlete. Whether it's cycling, running, mountain climbing or football, sucess comes not as a result of fancy gear, but hard work. And not only hard work, but long, lonely hours of hard work. Even when you don't feel like it. Even when you're not on form, even when you know everybody else is out having a good time and you're in the gym or out on the running track under the floodlights.

A famous manufacturer of running shoes has a slogan emblazoned on their T shirts, "Just Do It". Don't talk about it or discuss it or argue it or debate it. Just do it.

Regular, disciplined training and steady application counts for far more than special ability and every successful athlete knows it.

Now let's be hard on ourselves for a moment. When did we last read our Bibles? I suspect that some of us haven't opened them since the last time we were in church. I'll guarantee some of us keep our Bibles in the car so that they'll be handy for church and we don't look at them from one weekend to the next.

Most of us don't spend more than five minutes a day reading them anyway. Have a look at daily Bible reading notes; they form the bulk of our "Quiet Time" readings. You can do them in 90 seconds easy.

And what about our prayer life? Is that virtually non existent too? Is our Quiet Time, 90 seconds reading followed by 30 seconds praying? If it is, could that be the reason why we see so little victory in our Christian living? Are we reading and praying systematically, or is the only praying we do public prayer in mid-week? Do we even still go to the mid-week or have we fallen into the habit of neglecting that as well? Has it become another of those areas in the life of the church that we're just not involved in.

Next time you're driving home on a wet, miserable winter's night and pass some poor soul jogging along in a track suit, think about him. He's on his own; steadily putting in the miles, chest heaving and teeth gritted against the pain, with perhaps 5 miles behind him and 6 more to go and then think about your own spiritual development.

Maybe he wasn't feeling great tonight, but he went out anyway. Maybe his friends are at a party but he left early because he has a training schedule to maintain. He wishes he didn't need to do this but he knows he's going to get nowhere as an athlete unless he does.

"I press towards the mark," says Paul, "For the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus."

Whether we have the desire to pray and read or not is immaterial. We need to buckle down, make the time, grit our teeth, put up with the pain and as it says on the T shirt, "Just Do It."


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