Matthew 7: “20 Mile March”

In the book Great by Choice, Jim Collins tells the story of two adventurers who set out to be the first people in modern history to reach the South Pole. The year was 1911. The location was the South Pole, where temperatures reach 20 below in the summer.

One team was led by Roald Amundsen. The other team was led by Robert Falcon Scott.

Roald Amundsen ca. 1908


Robert Falcon Scott

Both men were roughly the same age and had comparable experience. They both started their 1,400 mile journey within a few days of each other. They both endured the same conditions.

But the two teams had dramatically different strategies.

Scott led his team based on the current conditions. If it was good weather, he might march 30, 40 or even 50 miles. On bad days, when gale forced winds made traveling far worse than normal, he would travel less, or not at all. He let the environment determine his distance. In the process, he led his team to exhaustion

Amundsen, on the other hand, adopted a different strategy. He decided that he would march 15-20 miles, regardless of weather conditions.

On good days, he went the same distance, even though some on his team challenged him to go further. On bad days, he led his team exactly the same, even though many complained. He didn’t let the environment, or the suggestions of his team sway him. They would march 15-20 miles, and rest, even if they didn’t feel like it.

I’m sure you’re wondering who won the race. Amundsen, who went a persistent distance on a daily basis, won the race. And he won big.

Amundsen on his last day was only 34 miles away from the South Pole and in good weather, but did he stretch it out and go all 34? No, he of course did 17 on one day at 17 on the other.

Scott reached the south pole 35 days later, and on the return trip, he, and every person on his team died. So what was the difference? The difference was persistence. Amundsen never deviated from the persistent plan of keep going.

How is prayer any different?

Think about your own prayer life:

Do you have an Amundsen style prayer life?

  • Consistent, persistent, faithful, staying the course one day at a time, one moment at a time.

Do you have a Scott style prayer life? 

  • Erratic, inconsistent, varies depending on life’s circumstances. One day it’s a ton, the next it’s non-existent.

You see, prayer is a habit to cultivate. It is a discipline to be developed. It’s a skill to be practiced. While I don’t want to reduce praying hard to time logged, if you want to see an increase in your prayer life, you have to pray…and sometime… pray hard.

Keep On Keeping On

Matthew 7:7 (NLT) Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

I like the NLT of Matthew 7 because of it’s consistent usage of “Keep on.” The reality for us is we’re each on our own journey towards our Spiritual South Pole. We need to assume an Amundsen style prayer life and “Keep on keeping on!”

I’ve heard this saying, and I think it’s a good one: If you pray through, God will come through!

Praying hard is going twelve rounds with God. A heavyweight prayer bout with the Lord Almighty can be excruciating and exhausting, but that is how great prayer victories are won. Praying hard is two-dimensional: praying like it depends on God and working like it depends on you. It’s praying until God answers, no matter how long it takes. It’s doing whatever it takes to show God you’re serious.

So today, keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.