by Shannon Caughey
If you want to be a transformational coach who maximizes your impact for Jesus Christ, there’s a crucial practice that must be part of your life: prayer. Coaches who consistently experience the Lord’s work in and through their life are coaches who pray. But what’s involved in building prayer into your life? Over the next few devotions, we’ll consider several “prayers of a coach” based on prayer practices we see in the Bible – with the goal of helping us develop a “practice plan” for growth in prayer.
An essential dimension of this practice plan are prayers of praise. Psalm 145 is one among numerous examples of prayers of praise in Scripture. The psalmist opens by praying, “1 I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. 2 I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever.” As we continue in the psalm, we see more of why prayers of praise to God are so important. Here are just two of these reasons:
1. Prayers of praise keep our focus on God and his rightful place in our life and our coaching.
Athletes who rise above others with their skill, effort, or attitude catch our eye. We praise them because we’re impressed with them. God is exalted above all else in his being, his character, and his work. He is supremely worthy of “catching our eye” and receiving our praise! As the psalmist says in v. 3, “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.”The psalmist goes on to praise God for his “majestic, glorious splendor” (v. 5), his “awe-inspiring deeds” (v. 6), his “wonderful goodness” and “righteousness” (v. 7), his “unfailing love” (v. 8)…and many other truths of who God is.
Intentionally practicing prayers of praise to God enable us to stay focused on the unrivaled greatness of God’s being, character, and work. The sporting world is filled with temptations to give our devotion to things that won’t truly satisfy and instead will ultimately be destructive to us and those around us. Praising God reminds us of why he alone is worthy of our primary focus and devotion – not only in our coaching but in all areas. Regularly practicing prayers of praise help us keep God in his rightful place of being first in our mind, heart, and life.
2. Prayers of praise enable us to cultivate the right perspective about all things, including coaching.
In coaching, many things demand attention day by day: staying on top of a myriad of details, trying to understand what’s going on with that athlete who is acting out in school, figuring out how to help our team compete with greater confidence after suffering a string of losses…and the list goes on. Because they seem so critical, we can allow our perspective on life to be determined by how these things are going.
The psalmist’s prayer of praise leads him to see what’s happening in his life through a different lens: “For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does” (v. 12). When we praise God because he reigns over all, we’re reminded that this includes what’s happening right now in our situation. We can trust him and the bigger kingdom work he’s doing in all things, including what’s happening as we coach. When we praise God because he keeps his promises and pours out his grace upon us, we’re reminded that we don’t need to be anxious about things in our life or coaching sphere. Whether what we’re encountering is good, hard, or somewhere in between, we can trust that the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us. We can trust that God will not fail to fulfill what he has promised. Prayers of praise enable us to cultivate the right perspective: a God-centered perspective.
Coach, make it your regular habit to praise God as you pray. Praise him for how great and awesome he is! Praise him for his goodness, mercy, and unfailing love. Use Psalm 145 and other psalms – as well as the truths we see about God throughout Scripture – to direct and inspire you to exalt the Lord. As you make prayers of praise part of your “practice plan” for daily life, you’ll experience the joy of the Lord’s transformational work in and through you.
For reflection: Take a few minutes to offer prayers of praise to God. If you need a little help with this, read through Psalm 145 and make it your prayer to the Lord.