If you have seen two martial artists sparing, it’s easy to see they are practicing. This is an art where you are on both offense and defense at the exact same time. As a matter of fact, many of the moves serve as both simultaneously. However if you have ever seen someone practicing a form (and you have no knowledge of martial arts) it may look strange. Their movements are slow and methodical. There is no visible opponent, no quick moves, no obvious strikes. To someone new, it might look more like dance than martial arts.
However, to a martial artist, the form is one of the most vital parts of training. When a real battle comes, your moves needs to be second nature, completely natural and without preplanning or thought. The form creates muscle memory for the most accurate flow of specific movements. It trains your muscles to know what moves go together. Once these moves are committed to muscle memory, when a fight actually does occur, your mind makes one move and your muscles know just as fast what the next move will be.
This form is much like our own quiet time in the Bible. It’s just us, no visible opponent. Just us and the Word as we practice and memorize His Word so that when the enemy does attack, we’re prepared. The truth is, we never know where that attack will come from.
Most people think of the obvious when you think of the enemy attacking. A truly evil person committing a truly evil act. But the Bible tells us that is not always the case. In fact, the enemy is so crafty that he will hide his attacks in plain sight. Jesus recognized the attack through Peter when he said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matt 16:23)
In fact, Paul warns us in 1 Timothy that these attacks can come from within (just like that moment with Peter). However in Peter’s case, it was a moment but with others, it is a complete falling away. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” (1 Tim 4:1)
But Paul does not end with a simple warning. He concludes with the steps to protect yourself from such an enemy. “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Tim 4:15-16)
Practice for us is no different that than martial artist. Many martial artists will get up early and practice their form before any other distractions of the day. They do it alone, they quiet their heart to hear nothing but their own breathing and beating heart. We need to have that same dedication to get alone, in our own quiet time. Quiet ourselves to hear nothing but the voice of the Spirit within us. Read His Word, practice, study, memorize. So the next time the enemy attacks, your soul shouts out a scripture before you can even think. Like the martial artists, your inner being reacts to protect you faster than you can even think.