Have you ever noticed that we use the word practice for sports and our faith? We say we have “football practice.” We also say we “practice our faith.” In the athletic sense, it means to train or drill. When it comes to faith, practice means that you live out the belief that you have inside of you. I think the two; the practice of football and the practice of faith, have much in common. They share the same best practices.
Practice often. When it comes to football, the teams who win are usually the ones that practice the most often. So, it goes to say that the more you practice your faith the better. So, get into good spiritual habits of daily prayer, attending Mass and participating in the Sacraments, reading the Bible, etc. “Then [Jesus] told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary” (Luke 18:1).
Practice with a team. In football, practicing your individual skills is important but practicing with a team is a necessity. The same is true in faith. Yes, we should have a personal relationship with God and our private faith practices but we also need to practice our faith in a community, with a group of faith-filled people. “We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Practice both offense and defense. To be a good and balanced football team, good offense and defense is crucial. Practicing one without the other is worthless. In practicing your faith, you should be ready for anything and everything. One minute you are gaining ground in your prayer life and the next you are fighting off distractions and temptations. You must be ready on both sides. “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
Get a good coach. A good football team is always led by an even better coach. Having a good, faith-friend or a spiritual director is also important for practicing faith. They will help you see possibilities for improvement, encourage you when you are down, and cheer you on as you continue your journey. “Encourage one another and build each other up, just in fact as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:10).