In modern culture, speed is often prioritized over endurance, but there are great blessings in developing discipline and striving for longevity.
Coffee-lovers rejoice! Studies are coming out that drinking coffee daily is linked to lowered risks of stroke and Type 2 diabetes.
"The coffee bean itself is loaded with many different nutrients and phyto-chemicals," states nutrition researcher Walter Willett from the Harvard School of Public Health. A lot of these micro-nutrients are rich with antioxidants—the current buzzword of the health community—as well as magnesium and a few others that help reduce insulin resistance.
Beyond the nutritional benefits, researchers believe there is another, very simple reason that coffee is linked to health benefits.
It makes people happy.
They relax. They usually stop to enjoy their drink. Tension is released, at least for a moment. Coffee is a simple pleasure and daily ritual that may help people’s hearts be healthier by giving them a concrete reason to pause and be filled with joy.
The Simple Things That Fuel Us
The coffee bean is a tiny thing that drives many people through the day. Maybe we don’t “need” it to survive, per se, but it plays a critical role in our ability to function effectively and apparently helps us live longer.
Prayer similarly has this effervescent power to move us forward through the circumstances we face and grant longevity. Unlike a caffeinated drink, though, it’s far more potent in terms of how it changes our abilities to react well to our world because it quite literally can change the world.
As Andrew Murrey said, “When I work, I work. When I pray, God works.”
Now, it’s a tad hokey to whip out a saying like, ‘Pray every morning while you drink your coffee, and you’ll be ready to face the day physically and spiritually.” For one, coffee can become an unhealthy addiction, and there’s no such parallel (that I’m aware of) with prayer.
Also, this reduces prayer to a vitamin that we pop down the hatch along with our breakfast. It’s far more significance than a little talisman we hang on life’s rearview mirror to prevent cosmic fender-benders.
Prayer is vital because it requires humility to admit we don’t have anything under control. It reboots the system and realigns us with God’s will.
“The only way to fail in prayer is to not show up,” Tim Dilena, pastor and World Challenge board member, pointed out. “The man who prays will accomplish more in a year than a man who doesn’t in a lifetime.”
If we want to do well in our ministries, loves and lives, we have to pray. If we want to continue to do well long into the future, we absolutely must pray.
Learning Why, How and When to Submit
Prayer is good on its own but far better when we pray with others. Best of all is if we pray and work with others who have some kind of authority over us.
The answer is in Luke 22:42, Jesus says a strange thing: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Jesus should technically be equal to God the Father as a member of the triune godhead, right? However, if he sees submission to the Father as so important that he states it out loud on the eve of his own brutal death to be recorded in the Bible, then we should probably take note.
In his article to church leaders, Pastor Joe McKeever noted the importance of this trait. “Pity the minister who thinks because he is old or experienced or has held this office for years that he has it all figured out and needs no one to tell him anything. Such pastors are burdens to their staffs and dead weights to the leadership. The man of God must be humble and teachable.”
No one is such a preeminent expert that they can’t learn something new from someone else.
Beyond that practical advice, though, is a perhaps stranger truth: God often chooses to move through authority to grant blessing and answers to prayer that he may not gift otherwise.
“You look in the Bible, and the story of peers, of brothers, is not really…a great story. The first brothers are Cain and Abel. That didn’t go well. You’ve got Jacob and Esau. You’ve got the 11 brothers who threw Joseph in the pit…” Gary Wilkerson points out in his podcast.
“But what is healthy is the story of the father and the son, and I think there’s something parabolic in that, that God is trying to teach us. We need brothers, but it’s going to be rough and tumble. But there’s going to be a father there for you who will speak a blessing, a generational blessing, over you so when the baton is passed to your generation, you’re going to have something substantial.”
As we submit to authority, to spiritual fathers, we echo Christ’s submission to the heavenly Father, and that will help us stay in the race like little else can.
Learning How to Rest in God
A lot of people will say that the secret to longevity is rest and remembering why you chose this path in the first place. Whether it’s getting away with your spouse to rekindle the flame or taking a step back from a ministry to remember that it’s God’s, not yours, rest is vital.
However, far fewer people talk about the root reason that rest is necessary.
This leads to questions like “Why does rest look so different for some people? What should my rest look like? Am I a bad Christian if I don’t feel ‘rested’ after reading my Bible? How long should I rest? How do I know if I’m resting enough?”
Trying to dictate what exactly counts as rest will end up being an exercise in futility. Telling someone who is dyslexic to “go read the Bible” might be sentencing them to some profound frustration rather than any kind of rest. Going to church, while very important, is not going to be restful for someone who is strongly introverted.
“What does it mean to ‘rest in God’?” David Wilkerson asked in a daily devotional.
“It is to come to a place of total trust in the Lord’s promises — a place where there is no longer any struggle of doubt or fear, but rather a settled confidence. It is a continual belief that God is with us, that he cannot fail, and that he who has called us will see us through.”
Spiritual rest is what makes us meditate on how intensely fragile and finite we are and then conversely how powerful, good and infinite God is.
For one person this may be an intense hike while internally submitting a problem in their life to God. For another this may be gathering with Christian friends who can encourage them. For yet someone else, this might be reading a theologically sound book, writing a meditation on God or a scenario that reflects a biblical truth, painting a scene that reflects on God’s goodness or attending a prayer service.
When our souls submit to God in prayer, in the authority he’s put over us and in obeying his call to rest, then we will find that our Lord grants us the strength to endure for the long run.