Baseball pitchers need to have a “go-to” pitch. This is their best pitch. And, it is their most important pitch because it sets up effectiveness and it compensates for under-effectiveness. How do you know what a pitcher’s money pitch is? It is what he throws when he is down in the count or in some trouble with runners on base. It is his “go-to” pitch when he gets into jams.
As Christians we have something of a spiritual go-to pitch. When we are in a jam or need answers we shake off other pitches in favor of what we think will get the job done. Whether at work or in the home, physical or emotional, in the church or in your neighborhood—we get into jams. What do we do?
Let me give you a practical example for pastors. When something happens in the church what do we do? Consider the following situations: there are increases in marital counseling cases; there is a growing group of people who are vociferously not on-board with the church’s direction; financial giving is down; there are a lack of perspective leaders; people are nodding off during the preaching; people are becoming critical of the preaching.
In each of these circumstances the pastor is in something of a jam. In some cases the count is 3-0 with the bases loaded and in other cases, it is simply 2-0 in the 8th inning; but he nevertheless finds himself needing to throw a strike. Now, what does he do? Let me tell you what I too often do. To my shame I try to think and work my way out. This reveals what my money pitch is. If there are issues I will go to the whiteboard, think it out, and then come up with a plan. So, you see my money pitch, it is my ability to do or fix things.
The trouble here is obvious: I have forgotten that I am weak. What’s more, I have forgotten that God is strong. The go-to pitch, that is the most effective means we have for bringing God-exaliting change in our lives and our churches is prayer. How about that? We have a God who is all-powerful and loving and good and he bids us to pray—especially when in need:
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
We have the answer right here! Why do we mess around with spiritual “change-ups” and “knuckleballs” when God has given us a 100-mph fastball?!
I’ll tell you why: it is because we have too much confidence in ourselves and not enough confidence in God. We think we got it just fine. What pride.
Another pastoral example, we pastors will spend a lot of time pouring over commentaries, looking for illustrations, and crafting sentences, while spending a comparatively small time in prayer for the preparation, delivery and reception of the sermon. What does this reveal? It reveals that we believe that prayer is not as important or effective as the other items. But the Bible, on the other hand, bids us to pray continually (Col. 4:2; 1 Thes 5:17), fervently (James 5:17), and confidently (Heb. 4:16). It is prayer that God calls us to. And this prayer is not instead of study but along with our study. We give ourselves to what we think will work. Sadly, our lack of praying is a referendum on view of its effectiveness.
If you are a Christian, remember to devote yourself to prayer (Col. 4:2) above anything else, it is this that God has called you to. It must be our favorite “pitch” if you will—and not only when we get into jams, but even when we are doing well. Prayer is a great and effective privilege.
(image courtesy of Shutterstock)