The Apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26a. The Apostle Paul was teaching by example and by words what is required to achieve the eternal crown, the reward from God, because although it is something we all would like to achieve, it involves training and discipline. The rules are still the same as they were then. It is good to know that everyone who reaches the goal will receive the reward. But just as the athletes have to put forth a maximum effort, so do we, because everything worth accomplishing requires effort on our part.
In order to achieve any goal, planning and preparation are required, as is will power to make the necessary changes, determination to stand firm and patience. Once you start to move towards the goal, keep your attention fixed on the end. If these elements are not present, when obstacles appear we will feel discouraged and we will likely give up. When we are making the plan for a goal, we must anticipate that there will be obstacles and distractions along the way, and we must include in our written plan how we are going to handle it so we don’t get behind. Remember your purpose, and the prize you will receive when you reach your goal. That will give you motivation to keep going. When an athlete is competing, the spectators know if he is winning or losing, but the athlete does not know for sure until he reaches the end. Maybe that is why the Apostle Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12. He persevered, visualizing the end of the goal, and that should be an example to us all.
“The practical application of the Holy Spirit's purpose is extremely simple, but it is unequivocal…In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is ‘What do I want to come of this? What is it [for]?’ The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome. In the ego's procedure this is reversed. The situation becomes the determiner of the outcome, which can be anything. The reason for this disorganized approach is evident. The ego does not know what it wants to come of the situation. It is aware of what it does not want, but only that. It has no positive goal at all… Without a clear-cut, positive goal, set at the outset, the situation just seems to happen, and makes no sense until it has already happened… The absence of a criterion for outcome, set in advance, makes understanding doubtful and evaluation impossible. T17.vi 1-3
Organizing your life - which is a way of training your mind - will help you achieve any goal you set for yourself. However, at this time we want to talk about the goal of living a life closer to God. For example, you could plan a goal such as “During the following twelve months I will get rid of that heavy load I am carrying on my shoulders, all those issues I have not been able to forgive. They don’t bring me any benefit, and when I think about it, it hurts me.” What would be your incentive for doing this? God will occupy every empty space now vacant due to forgiveness, and His love, His joy, and His peace will emerge in your life. Isn’t that something desirable? No words can say all that you will receive from God when His presence fills your life. This is your personal experience with God. A short-term goal might be, "Today I will not pass judgment on anything that happens." If one full day is too much for you, start with two hours and continue to increase the hours until it becomes part of you. Anything you want to accomplish will need a plan.
A life lived with purpose will accomplish a lot more than a life which does not have a specific plan. That kind of life is dependent upon circumstances, and it changes direction every time some more attractive option appears. Quite often people realize their mistake when the end of their physical body is approaching, and it is so sad, because by then it is too late. To plan these goals is no different than when we have a prayer request before God, because you also need congruency. You need to be certain of what you want. So you ask yourself, “What do you want to come of this, and for what purpose?” When your heart and your words express the same intent is when you are ready to submit your prayer request. You can be sure that prayer will be answered because there is congruency.
But your request is cancelled when your desire is not in agreement with your words. Consistency is required. And you are consistent by praying every time in the same way. Persistency is also a requirement, and you will be persistent by praying for it until it manifests itself. Keep a log for your petitions and include the date. Present your request with thanksgiving, knowing that God has already given it to you. You are only waiting for its manifestation. When you receive the answer, make a notation of the date. This will keep you appreciative because you will recognize that God gave it to you.
When you don’t have a goal or purpose, you are going to be guided by your physical senses and emotions. In the first moment that doubt or mistrust arises, you will change your mind thinking that it was a mistake. This is why if you want to achieve something, it is so important to organize and plan before you take action. We are stewards of our lives and free to decide how we will live, but we have seen and read biographies of individuals who have succeeded n their goals, which show us that, yes, it takes work and effort, but they also did not allow discouragement or obstacles to deter them. If we want to use what time we have left effectively, we need to train our minds to work with goals. This will keep our minds focused, and the incentive, or prize that we are aiming for, will give us the strength to keep going. As the Apostle Paul said, “I do not run like someone running aimlessly.” Hopefully, like Him, we too will try with urgency, to meet the goal and receive our prize.
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all."
2 Corinthians 13:14