You Can’t Play the Game in the Huddle

Jun 24th 2009

Last weekend — Father’s Day Weekend — I made an admission to all the men at church.  “If you want to develop your prayer life, don’t expect to do it here (in a church worship service).  That’s right, a worship gathering at church is not a good place for a guy to develop his prayer life.  In fact let me put it this way — a worship gathering is not a good place for a guy to develop much of anything.”

Now some of the guys didn’t know whether to laugh or say “amen.”  I think there was some concern that I was laying a spiritual trap.  But here’s an example.

Last summer on my sabbatical — I took each of my kids on a trip.  Some father-son, father-daughter bonding time.  Jake and I went to the Black Hills and we did some rock climbing.  Our guide took Jake and I on 4 different climbs.  Two 60 foot climbs. One 80 foot climb. One 120 foot climb. I made the first two 60 foot climbs, and in spite of being drenched in sweat, having a leg that kept giving out, and feeling more tired than I could imagine, I felt kinda good about life. So my pride took a big hit when I had to tell Jake and my guide that I wasn’t even going to attempt the 80 foot climb. (I wanted to save myself for the 120 foot climb to heaven.)

So Jake finished the 80ft climb and gave me the appropriate razing.  Then we there we are standing at the bottom, the only way that I could tell it wasn’t a straight vertical climb is that I couldn’t see the guide who was already at the top.  Then I watched Jake start up his long arms finding holds I would never be able to reach! Then I started. I wish I could adequately describe the whole climb the crevice that I didn’t think I could pass the ledge that you had to swing your body around while hanging on to a small piece of granite the small portion that had an overhang. Instead all I’ll tell you is that 3/4’s of the way up, I was ready to quit.

The picture is the route we took, about 3/4’s up, it’s not me — but it’s about where I was when I didn’t think I could keep going.  If Jake hadn’t been waiting for me up on top — I would’ve quit.  But here’s the point, hanging on that rock in the Black Hills, unsure if I could make it or not, I prayed like I have never prayed in a church building.

I made it to the top and what a beautiful sight!  An incredible view of the Black Hills; the heart-filling satisfaction of just having made it to the top; sitting there with my son at the top, my heart was almost singing with gratitude to God.  It was a total prayer experience.

You understand — It is in the adventure of living life and being pushed to our limits, facing trials we cannot handle on our own — that we get good at prayer.  See at the very best a worship gathering is like a huddle in football.  We huddle up to get the next play, give affirmation to those who are doing well, encouragement to those who messed up and perhaps a scowl to those who don’t care enough to try.

But you don’t play the game in the huddle.  The huddle is not the real cause of Christ.  The huddle is necessary, but it is not sufficient.  So have you been hanging out in the huddle?  Maybe that’s why the game seems to have passed you by?