We were up one with eight seconds left on the clock. Our small forward had just knocked down two free throws to take the lead. The other team inbounded the ball, advanced it to half-court, and called time out. As the opposing coach drew up her desired play, our staff decided to stay in man-to-man defense, but to switch every screen. We emphasized over and over during that sixty second time out for our players to TALK and make sure they knew who they were guarding and to TALK through switching every screen. I even asked each player to say the number of the player they were guarding before we broke the huddle. Every player identified an opponent she would defend. As our players walked out to half court, I felt hopeful. If we could defend for one more possession, we would win a hard fought game.
I watched as the official handed the inbounder the ball and quickly turned to watch the opponent’s offensive play develop. It was a “screen the screener” play, one which we had reviewed the day before in practice. We should have been ok, but, two of our players failed to TALK through a switch that should have occurred on a screen. As a result of not TALKING through the switch and to my disappointment, a girl on the opposing team curled towards the corner of the floor and got off a wide open seventeen foot jump shot. Nothing but net.
We lost because we did not TALK through the play.
I was attending the practice of a Division One women's basketball program when I heard a very irate head coach abruptly stop a drill. She shouted, “Ladies! I am going to tell our staff to not recruit anyone who doesn’t TALK on the floor! I’m tired of you all NOT TALKING. We cannot win if we do not TALK to one another.”
“We cannot win if we do not TALK to one another.”
Most of the time when I am on the practice floor instructing my team to talk, I think about prayer because prayer is simply talking to God. I agree with the coach who said, “We cannot win if we do not talk to one another.” I would paraphrase her words this way, “We cannot win in life if we do not talk to God.” James, the brother of Jesus, said, “You have not because you ask not.” Jesus said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus, the creator of the Cosmos, has given us an open invitation to TALK to him and tell him what we need.
I once had a parishioner tell me, “I feel like God doesn’t exist and if he did, he wouldn’t listen to me.” I asked the parishioner, “Well, have you tried talking to him lately?” His reply was, “No.” (I immediately went back to that last second play when my team did not talk through the switch. We won not, because we talked not.) I looked at him and said, “You have not because you ask not. Give God a chance and TALK to him again. You never know what his response might be.”
Sometimes God answers our prayers with a “yes,” sometimes with a “no,” and sometimes with a “not yet.” I often grow frustrated when I feel as if his timing is off. When I pray or TALK to God, I sometimes focus on the answer over God. It doesn’t matter. No matter how often I pray or TALK to God, no matter my level of frustration or faith, and even when I struggle with focus, God still calls out to me, “Come. Pray. TALK to me.”
We have not because we ask not.
We have not because we pray not.
We have not because we talk not.
Ask, pray, and talk to the one who cries out, “Come to me.”
Paul is the husband to Tara, father to Natalie and Isaac, has an average jump shot, and enjoys running. His secret wish is to one day become a Jedi Knight. Paul holds a doctorate in marriage and family counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and currently serves as senior pastor of Hardinsburg Baptist Church. Paul desires to help young couples navigate the early crucibles of marriage, especially when one or both of the spouses are engaged in vocational ministry.