It's a popular adage that practice makes perfect. I say that to my children all the time. The past couple days, I have encountered two reminders that this is, in fact, true. No matter what we are trying to accomplish in life, we need to put in the time to make it a reality. The first reminder came in reading Writer's Digest. Joshua Henkin wrote "Some of my worst work was produced under the influence of inspiration, and some of my best work was produced when I was feeling least inspired. Pack your lunch pail and go to work. Tie yourself to your chair. That's how you become a writer."
As a writer, I can vouch for the truth of that statement. Every Sunday night I write a column. While I keep my eyes open for a source of inspiration it is not always easy to find. Many weeks there are desperate pleas to the Holy Spirit. My columns are not always great, I know, but I do somehow find the words each week and hope that the Holy Spirit helps them do the work that they should.
The same holds true for the spiritual life. If we want to be a person of God, deeply rooted in prayer and faith, then we need to do the work. Alton Pelowski, writing in Columbia Magazine compares living the Christian life to running a marathon.
"A training schedule for a marathon mirrors the advice of the saints, in that it starts out slowly and gradually increases in its demand. If a novice runner attempts to run a long distance without training, or a young Christian attempts to pray for extended periods and perform heroic acts without ever having done so, the feat often proves too formidable, and the goal is seen as not worth the effort.
"On the other hand, if one does take the necessary time to train - and not just talk about it - then longer distances become easier with each successive week. In the same way, St. Thomas Aquinas and others have explained that when we come to possess the virtues, which rightly order our actions in thought and deed, then doing good becomes natural and seemingly effortless."
Anything we want to do well in life, we need to practice. That includes our faith.