I have been on a quest for excellence in all-day prayer with God. At least, that’s what I’ve thought since the start of February. Halfway through the experiment, I admit I’m seriously floundering. I’ve been thinking my enemies in this quest are distraction and lack of focus. These certainly can be sneaky enemies of excellence. But after examining my own situation, I believe I’ve been derailed by a spirit of perfectionism and a poorly identified goal.
Perfectionism allows me to be successful only when I can remember each instance of prayer through the day. A murky definition of my goal meant that the further I proceeded in the experiment, the more I felt my goal was to pray multiple times throughout the day. As I evaluated why the practice stalled so badly, I discovered my true goal was fuller intimacy with God. All-day prayer may help me achieve this goal, but it may not be the only way.
Knowing your personal enemies of excellence is important, for three reasons:
- Identifying the enemy lets you identify its characteristics.
- Knowing the enemy’s characteristics informs your strategy.
- Using an informed strategy increases the likelihood of victory/success.
Once I knew one of my enemies was a misidentified goal, I could think about how it had derailed my progress. Then I could revise my strategy.
I continue to allow some events during the day to trigger my prayers. I have also changed my journaling approach. Most days, I record something about the events of that day or the previous day. It’s a factual account for my own benefit. Now, I have included God in this journaling time. I discuss with Him the events, as well as my thoughts and feelings about them.
This journaling method is now my basic plan for intimacy. I continue to experiment with other aspects of sharing myself and my day with God, but this is my core plan. It’s something I can stick with.
If you’ve been derailed from your path of excellence, maybe it’s time to reevaluate. Look at what you are doing, why you are doing it, and where you want to end up. Your enemies may very well be different from mine, but once you know them, you can rework your strategy.
God gives us wisdom to make plans that honor Him. It’s not something we must do on our own. But we also need to give thought to our ways.
What are your enemies?