A Prayer to Stop Looking Back
By Meg Bucher
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT
“One …two …three …four …”
The painful consequence of looking back increased in intensity with every push-up.
“five …six …seven …”
One of my nicknames was “Chicken Wing” in high school …
“eight …nine …ten …”
Resembling a stick figure, my hyperextending elbows bent under my weight as I struggled to push myself off the ground over and over again. Scoring points for my team, I’d raced a good mile, but I couldn’t resist the urge to see where the rest of the field was behind me. I owed my coach ten push-ups for every time I looked back.
Even when we unlock a talent the Lord has given us and work hard to be the best we can be, it’s human nature to struggle with confidence. Doubt causes us to look back while running full speed ahead. The Apostle Paul made it a habit to forget about the past and instead focus on what’s ahead. Forget means to cease or fail to remember, be unable to recall, or omit or neglect unintentionally.
Paul wrote about the finish line of our faith, eternity with Christ. The English Standard Version reads: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” The ESV Global Study Bible explains: “The Greek word for a goal can mean either the finish line in a race or an archery target. The prize for Christians is the blessings and rewards in the age to come.”
God blessed me with incredible distance coaches. They taught me to focus on the finish line, helped me learn how to pace myself and break the bad habit of looking back. It takes a lot of faith to put your head down and exhaust every ounce of energy in your body, trusting someone to pick your wobbly, passed-out self off of the ground at the finish line. Coach’s voice still rings in my ears today, layered with more belief in me than I ever had.
Jesus is calling us. Listen and look for Him in the present and the future. Look back briefly enough to remember how important it is to keep running forward. We’d look ridiculous if we ran backward at full speed. Let’s pray for the focus to keep moving forward.
Thank You for faithful servants like Paul! Through his divinely inspired words and life story, we can learn what it means to keep running forward into the future you have planned for us. It’s hard to forget, God. We tend to cling to things that have already happened, wishing they would have gone another way. When people hurt us, it’s hard to forgive but even harder to forget. Father, we pray for Your divine strength today to help us focus on the present. What do you have for us to do today, God? Help us to focus. This is the day You have made, Lord! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! And, in what’s to come. Jesus’ return and eternity with You in heaven. For all who claim Jesus as their Savior, this is what we have to look forward to. God, we pray Your voice echoes in our minds like my coach still rings in mine! Sometimes we need someone to believe in us more than we do! Jesus, You are always that person for us. Our Savior, Messiah, Living Water, and Friend. Thank You for returning the smiles to our faces and lifting the countenance of our hearts.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/m-imagephotography
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. Join her on the journey as she launches her new site Joy Overflowing, or join her longstanding community at Sunny&80. She is also the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” and “Glory Up, The Everyday Pursuit of Praise,” and “Home, Finding Our Identity in Christ.” She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University, but stepped out of the business world to stay home and raise her two daughters …which led her to pursue her writing passion. A contributing writer for Salem Media since 2016, Meg is now thrilled to be a part of the editorial team. Always active in her community and the local church, Meg also leads Bible study and serves as a leader for teen girls.
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