Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Practice



1. habitual or customary performance
2. habit; custom
3. repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency
You've heard it said..."Practice, practice, practice".  "Practice makes perfect".  "Practice what you preach".  "Put your faith into practice".
The term 'practice' will never be just a routine word for me anymore.  It will always remind me of someone that gave the word 'practice' a whole new meaning. 
I am a member of First Baptist Church of Palmetto, FL.  We have been blessed to have an associate pastor by the name of Joe Choate for many, many years.  He has been an inspiration to countless people. 
Joe carried our church through a very difficult period of time.  For over three years we were without a senior pastor, and Joe stepped up to fulfill the job on a "temporary" basis.  He preached almost every Sunday, and led countless services and pastoral duties...all while dealing with recurring cancer.  He knew that God had given him that job, not because it was necessarily something he wanted to do...but because he was a faithful servant that obeyed. In the same way that Joe knew he could count on God to always be by his side, God knew He could count on Joe to step up and do what was needed.  They had a relationship with each other that was fed by prayer.  Joe could always talk to his Father...and his Father could speak to him.
When Joe's cancer came back for the second time, he told the congregation that he needed us to pray for him.  He needed the prayers and we needed the practice.  This became a recurring mantra of sorts around the church.  He often teased us about it, but there was an underlying truth to the banter.  He did need the prayers...and he knew we needed to practice at the art of praying.
Practice at praying??  How odd that may sound.  But when you think of it...he had a point.  The dictionary says that practicing is a habit or systematic exercise.  We exercise our muscles to make them stronger...we exercise or 'practice' our prayer life in order to strengthen it.
They say that it takes about 21 days, or about three weeks of doing something on a daily basis to become a habit.  What is a habit?  It is an acquired behavior pattern that because of repitition, becomes almost involuntary.  Why would Joe want us to practice at praying?  Because he knew we need prayer ln our lives.  We need to work on our own relationship with God on a daily basis, until we don't even have to think about it.  That way, our prayers don't always reach God's ears when we are in trouble.  It's more of a connection...of the heart.  A connection that we foster daily.  If we are in a relationship with someone, we have to have communication.  If we don't talk to our spouse or significant other every day, that intimacy will be disturbed...or shattered.  The same thing goes with our relationship with God.  Joe knew that.  He tried to encourage us to avoid that spiritual scenario.

On Sunday January 15th, Joe met his Heavenly Father face to face.  We thank God for his life and for all that he shared with us, here on earth.  We will miss him terribly.  Our love and prayers go out for his grieving family and friends, that God will envelop them with His Peace.  We pray for them, because they need the prayer....and we need the practice.

Practice makes perfect.


  1. Peggy, Thank you so much for this. I love it! So true. I know he would have loved to read this.


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