Practice Makes Progress

Gwen Smith Blog, Christian Living, Devotions, Encouragement, Prayer, Worship 101 Comments


I’ve always been an athlete. As an adult, I enjoy power walking and keeping fit. Growing up, I played on different sports teams all year round, but volleyball has always been my jam.

I played volleyball in college and now I help coach my daughter’s high school team. I’ve been around this game for more than thirty years and I’ve spent more time on the court, on the sand, and on the grass playing and practicing than most people ever will.

You’d think that after all the hours invested I’d have the game perfected by now, right?

Not hardly.

There are still times when I shank a pass and have spike attempts that send the ball into the net instead of over the net. There are still times when I miss a serve.



Each mistake frustrates me. Seriously. I’m competitive and I hate to lose. No matter how much I’ve grown as a player, I’ve come to realize that when I step on the volleyball court mistakes are going to happen and there will always be opportunities for me to grow and progress in my skills. Simple as that.

And you know what? I’ve found the same to be true in my prayer life.

Do you remember that old saying “practice makes perfect?” Well, I think it’s a bunch of beans! I recently heard a phrase that better represents the reality of growth and development: practice makes progress.


Whether we’re talking about our development as athletes, as students, as a wives, as employees, or simply as women of faith – specifically, as women of prayer – we are all purposed for growth until we die.

The truth that the apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 7 still remains: we don’t do what we should do and we do what we shouldn’t. So true. Prayer, I’m afraid, is one of the “don’t dos” for many of us. We all seem to KNOW how important it is to trust God with our burdens, but many of us neglect to put this important discipline into practice.

Do you ever go the phone before you go to the throne?

Yeah. Me too.

There are times when I don’t trust God the way I should. And though I’ve been faith-walking with Him a long time, there are still a million ways that I need to grow. There will always be ways for us to grow and there will always be mistakes for us to work through.

My relationship with God grows when I pray. Yours does too.

Similarly, our trust in God grows as our relationships with Him grow.

Jesus said this, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Jesus counts us as his “friends.” That blows my mind! Yet, how many of us would talk to our close friends as infrequently as we talk to Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer?

Of course, it’s not like we can ignore the world around us and pray 24/7. Right? We’re still going to go to work and spend time with friends and family, but in the midst of it all, Scripture instructs us to: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

The practice of a praying life will increase our progress in faith and in trusting God.

This can translate into prayers of thankfulness and petition during power walks, time in the carpool line, while we wash laundry, and take lunch breaks. We can redeem these moments to thank God, and to pray for our children, careers, futures, frustrations, marriages, trials, and our challenges.

When we “do life” with God by exercising the spiritual discipline of prayer our faith grows.

It helps us to trust Him more.

A strong volleyball team is one that relies on each other in the game. As Christians, we have the advantage. We have God on our team. And with God on our team, we cannot fail. Seriously. If God is for us, who can stand against us? (A TWEETABLE!) We just need to talk to Him and trust him, rather than trying to play the game of life on our own.

Practice makes progress.

We will learn to trust God more as we go to Him in prayer.

Dear God,
That You would choose to call me friend is simply amazing!
Thank you that though I’m not perfect, your grace allows me to progress in faith! Please forgive me for the times when I go about my day and “do life” without You.
Help me to continuously pray and to trust You with my burdens.
In Jesus’ name, amen


FOR YOUR REFLECTION: How would you rate your prayer life on a scale from 1-10? Where would you like your prayer life to rank on that same scale? Are you willing to do anything about it? If so, what? If not, why?


FOR YOUR RESPONSE: “Add 10 Challenge” – For one week, I challenge you to add 10 minutes of prayer each day to your normal prayer routine? Will you do it? Yes? Make it public! Leave a comment/commitment below saying, “I’m in for plus ten!”


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Comments 101

  1. I get that you are trying to encourage us in our prayer life, BUT, I won’t do it. Let me tell you why. As I’ve grown older I realize how competitive I’ve been and how it has helped and hurt me. I strive but don’t succeed, or I fall short of my goals, then I feel BAD about myself.
    I don’t think thebChristian life is supposed to be a competition, comparing ourselves with others, or feeling puffed up when we have met a goal.
    My philosophy of life has changed from “doing” to “being.” There is o mandate from ?God that designates how much we should do something. We are to do things with all our heart, soul, and spirit. We are to go off by ourselves and pray. We are to gather with the assembly. So many ways of worshiping, praying, and honoring God. Please don’t set time up time frames because we all will miss the boat. Then our enemy can use that against us. Just encourage us to do it and love God in the process.

  2. I’m in plus 10… I want to thank you for taking the time to write out your thoughts and prayers. I wish that I could spend a day with you to tell you how much your bible study on Psalms and these messages mean to me. I know that you are an angel from God who has brought you into my life to help me grow and for that I will be forever grateful. Maybe one day I will get to hung your neck and thank you in person. 🙏🙏😘😘

  3. Thank you Gwen, for all your encouragement that you share everyday with us women. Life is hard enough, but to walk it without the Lord, is impossible, that is, to experience His joy, peace and love. How important it is that we need other believers to come along side us in the race, to pick us up, when we have slowed down or fallen.
    Thank you Gwen for your love in sharing and caring!💞
    I’m in for The Plus 10….

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  4. I’m in, for adding 10…or 15, 20 +. I want to up my prayer life. I also wanted to mention I played on a volleyball team in High school. Loved it. God bless you, Gwen, love your post, very inspiring.

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  5. I am in for plus 10!!!!!!!
    Thanks for all your words of empowerment. I have shared your app and the Sisters love it.
    May God continue to bless and keep you.

  6. How appropriate that this came up today as I have been lamenting on this for some time. I guess God wants to spend some time with me. I’m in for 10! Thank you for investing in us ladies. It’s a gift I look forward to each day as a reminder of who I am, who God is and where I need to be in life!

  7. I’m in for plus 10! thank you so much for these devotionals the Lord richly bless and continue to inspire you as you inspire and encourage us through his word.

  8. Just an hour before reading this I chose one way to improve my foundation of faith. To chose from some Gospel principles that will keep me protected from the forces of the advisary and I chose Prayer. Thank you Gwen for showing me one more way to improve with the sacred principle.
    I am happily and excitedly in for Plus Ten!

  9. “I am in for 10 +++ and more.” Yes, even in that boring line at a checkout line in grocery store( I choose to do mental yoga, by praying and praising our Lord).
    It helps me be polite and friendly to an overworked and understaffed store clerk.
    I find the more I pray, the more I need to pray, for all people need each other’s prayers (each and every new day). Make life count, for all of our days are numbered, and we do not get to reset our timers to ours or others lives. So make a good lasting first and last impression of cheerfulness : Joy in knowing our Lord, and try to smile to spread peace and happiness to one another, by lending a helpful hand, heart, and mindfulness to each other’s needs.Prayer is our direct and loving communication with our Lord, without needing any mediator or interpreter for us. I love God, because He first loved me!

  10. Gwen, I’m in for plus 10!!

    I thank God that I stumbled on to Girlfriends in God, and in particular, you. I’m currently reading an amazing book… “I Want It All”!!!

    Thank you! Much love and blessings to you and your family!!

  11. I started about a month ago praying for individuals as I am getting ready in the mornings. When I put on my wedding ring I pray for my marriage and husband. I have three bracelets I wear everyday. One that i bought for a friend and one for myself. When i put it on i pray for that specific friend and her family and then all my friends in general. Then i have two other bracelets that represent my husband and son that are both in Law enforcement. I pray for the both individually, my sons wife and all Law enforcement in general. Then i pray for the rest of my family. It has been fun and a quick way to get everyone covered before my day gets too hectic.

  12. I pray continually throughout the day whenever there is a need or something to praise God about. I am going to take the challenge “I’m in for 10 – plus” to spend more time diligently in the morning praying and seeking Him and his answers.. We can NEVER get enough prayer time.

  13. I’m in for plus ten! To be honest, God is the only one I trust completely for He is infallible. I know His ways are not my way and His thoughts are above my thoughts. With this knowledge I do have trouble understanding at times what happens in life but that is when I know I must trust Him completely knowing what He is doing in our lives is for His glory, not our own. That’s when trust is most certainly tested. But that’s okay, that’s when I’m in for plus ten more. I cannot and would not want to imagine life without my sweet Lord.

  14. Good morning ladies,
    My name is Kimberly and i am in for plus 10. Thank you so much Gwen for brining this challenge to lufe. It is exactly what i needed. I am blessed to be part of this challenge , as well as GIG!
    God Bless

  15. I’m in for plus 10, and your book that I have started recently, Trusting God, has given me good head-start. Thank you for writing that book, it is just what I needed.

  16. Gwen, You are such a blessing. You don’t know how much this was meant for me to read. It was an honor to meet you at the Bay Leaf Baptist retreat. The Lord spoke to me almost hourly through you and the women of Bay Leaf. Thank you!

  17. Hi Gwen, I really liked this one because it showed me that I am on fire…..Lol Girlfriend I am pass the number 10. I talk to God through out my day. For the smallest thing to the biggest thing. God is my 24/7 and through doing this conversation with our Heavenly Father my faith as grow by leaps and bounds! I watch TBN channel everyday and I am learning so much on top of what I already know. God is my “first priority” in my life! Nothing comes before our Heavenly Father…And I am witnessing His greatness everyday bu putting Him first. I told a lady one day at my daughter’s school that I pray first thing in the morning everyday and she said her first thing is checking her wall on Facebook… I see where alot of people place prayer second or third or fourth,. But I tell you what if you go to your “friend” more on a regular basis amazing things start to happen…Can I get a Amen…;)

  18. Bless your heart Gwen,you are truly spreading the word of God,thank you so much.I am sooooo in for plus ten.Thank you Jesus!

  19. Just love this share today! I’m in for 10 but who’s counting right?!! God is showing me that our time doesn’t have to be always 45mins or 10mins but that a quick 3mins in the supermarket queue is just as relevant. As you put it, in our power walks, while doing laundry…etc. Thanks so much!

  20. Gwen,

    I absolutely loved your devotional today! The Lord and I have been discussing prayer all week and how we believers take it for granted. It is such a privilege to be able to go into the presence of our Lord and communicate with Him. He has been helping me to see this and realize that we should be doing it so much more than we are (or should I say that I need to be doing it more than I am). I am in for plus ten! Thanks so much!

  21. I loved most when in the prayer you said, “You’re grace allows me to progress in my faith.” How true I’ve found that to be even more just recently. Thank you. I also love, “Practice makes progress (instead of perfect).” What a powerful statement!!!! 🙂

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