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If you aren’t a sports fan, bear with me. Sometimes lessons from sports are so applicable to our spiritual lives that we have to hear the story.

On Sunday the Texas A&M basketball team came from behind in what has been called a miracle comeback to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA playoffs. The oddsmakers had them at 0% or .1% (not 1% but 1/10 of 1%) chance of winning at 35 seconds to play and 12 points behind. Apparently this comeback was history-making. (To be perfectly honest, I am a big A&M fan, having grown up with an Aggie dad and having raised two Aggie kids. But that’s not why I am telling you this story!)

So how do a basketball game and spiritual life parallel?

If a team can believe enough to keep playing full throttle with just over half a minute to play, how much more should we trust God with the impossible or the improbable? After all, Jesus told us to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1-7), to keep on seeking, asking, and knocking in prayer because God the Father gives what is good to his children (Matt. 7:7-11).

I have prayed certain prayers for decades now. At times I have lost hope and prayed little. At other moments my hope and faith have strengthened and I have determined not to give up, almost picturing God’s answers.

Two foundational things help.

First is belief. The Aggies believed they could do it. I know that God has the power and grace needed to move big time in answer to my prayers. When my faith wavers, I reread stories such as the parting of the Red Sea under Moses or Jesus’s resurrection of Lazarus, and my faith grows as I remember God’s greatness.

Second is encouragement and support. The Aggies had great fans at the game cheering them on, and team members on the bench and coaches wild with excitement. When I am close to giving up, I need other Christians. They believe for me when my faith is small. For example, this past weekend I was on a short retreat with several friends who are all strong and trustworthy women of God. They encouraged me and prayed for my long-term concerns.

Some of you may be dealing with situations or hard relationships that make you doubt that God hears your prayers. You may see little or no progress as you pray day after day and year after year.

Spend time in God’s Word reading and either meditating or journaling through stories about God’s great power and love, and watch your faith grow again. Find at least one friend who is both trustworthy and prayerful and willing to encourage you and pray for your request.

Keep on praying! God is listening!

“. . . they ought always to pray and not lose heart,” (Luke 18:1).

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