Play and Pray

Matt Swisher
3 min readJun 17, 2022


Photo by Vika Strawberrika on Unsplash

Puritan sabbaths that eliminated play were a disaster. Secular sabbaths that eliminate prayer are worse. Sabbath-keeping involves both playing and praying. The activities are alike enough to share the same day and different enough to require each other for a complementary wholeness.
~Working the Angles, Eugene Peterson

We were created for so much more than we give ourselves credit. We can be so singularly focused that we completely miss out on the bigger picture. We create false dichotomies. We choose between unrelated (or, worse, interrelated) things. In the end, we miss out.

A few years back, my best friend asked if I would be willing to join the coaching staff for a travel 8U baseball team. I’ve never coached in my life — if you don’t count standing beside first base when the softball team is batting (and you shouldn’t; I just stand there because it’s a shorter walk than the dugout). This team was not part of a high-end, competitive program. (Yes, those do exist for travel baseball.) It primarily was just about making travel baseball affordable for some players to learn to love the game. We (mostly) had fun, even though we didn’t win a game all season.

But with the rise and popularity of travel baseball, what we are seeing is that many more young people are focusing on just one sport. This is true for baseball, basketball, football — you name it. There are a lot fewer all-around athletes, and a lot more who are specializing in one particular sport.

Dave Winfield was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. He had a great career mostly with the Padres and Yankees, but he also spent some time with the Angels, Blue Jays, Twins and Indians. He was drafted by four different professional leagues in three different sports — Padres (MLB), Vikings (NFL), Hawks (NBA) and Stars (ABA). Dave Winfield was an athlete. He didn’t chose early on and just focus on one sport.

So, why am I making these sports analogies?

When it comes to our spiritual lives, we can have a tendency to overdo it. We have a tendency to focus so intensely on one aspect that we lose sight of what can bring us balance in our lives as a whole. We become so “heavenly-minded that we don’t do any earthly good” as the saying goes.

What we really need to strive for in this life is balance. Sure, we are naturally going to pay more attention to some of the things that we are better at or we find more interesting, but we have to pay attention to the “shadow side” of ourselves as well. You can cook a steak all the way through without turning it, but it’s not going to taste very good if you do.

So, where are you out of balance? Where is it in your life that things aren’t quite where they should be? And how can you bring things back into the proper alignment?



Matt Swisher

Just some guy who is looking to make my pocket of the world a better place. Life is a journey; let’s walk together and help each other along the way.