Pray First 2024 – Prize Devotional

January 16, 2024
Pray First 2024 – Prize Devotional

“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead. I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:12-14

What is the prize Paul is talking about? Paul often used analogies that would resonate with his audience. In this case, he was writing to the church at Corinth and referencing an athletic competition that occurred near the area. The Isthmian Games were similar to the Olympic Games and took place every two years near Corinth. In ancient Greco-Roman times, the winner’s crown would be a wreath made of olive, pine or laurel branches. Paul is comparing this perishable earthly crown awarded to the victor of an earthly race to the imperishable crown promised to those who pursue “God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

I grew up in church, was saved at a young age, attended all the activities, and learned all the prayer formulas and methods to have the right "quiet time." I later discovered that we can have all the tools, all the resources, and know exactly how to do what it is we need to do, but if we don’t do it, it doesn’t work. As a young mom, I struggled with not being able to have the “perfect quiet time." So, I would just wait until the ideal time. As a mom of three active boys, the “ideal” time never came! At some point, I realized this was just a tactic of the enemy to put it off and keep putting it off. I finally figured out that God isn’t interested in if I have the right resources or the right routine. He is interested in a right relationship. He Himself is the prize – not how we do it, not where we do it, not why we do it, but just that we do it – that we spend time with Him. If I don’t get anything else right in this life, I want to get that right. All the tools, resources, methods, and ideal routines don’t amount to anything if we have not purposed in our heart to pursue Christ. As we pursue Him, He imparts more of Himself to us. We gain more of Christ.  

What is the prize we are pursuing in this life? What captures our time, our attention, our energy? Is it recognition, is it followers, is it productivity, is it a platform, is it perfection, is it distraction? What is the motive behind what we pursue? At some point, we come to realize that the only thing that truly ever satisfies our hearts is Jesus.

Jesus is the prize. He is the prize for this life and the life to come.  

A. W. Tozer said, “A thousand distractions would woo us away from thoughts of God, but if we are wise, we will sternly put them from us and make room for the King and take time to entertain Him.”

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." -1 Corinthians 9:24-25

By Shari Edwards