We talked with professional basketball player Rodney Pryor about his faith journey, how he’s living in the increase of Christ, and the mentors who have impacted his life. Here’s what he had to say:
What effect does your faith have on your lifestyle?
It’s everything to me. I sometimes call myself an extremist in the faith, but when you get a chance to really fathom God, the God of the universe, the Creator of all things, it has to be everything. I see the God of Scripture come alive in my life. I don’t want to move unless God speaks. It may not be an audible voice, but the more you study Scripture and allow it to speak into your life, the more you see the roadmap God wants you to take. With so much uncertainty in sports, I have a peace because I know God.
How did your journey with Christ begin?
I grew up in the faith. My mom was a devoted believer and took us to church, Bible study and Sunday school at a young age. But I didn’t come into my personal relationship with the Lord until later. Even then, probably between the ages of 15 to 21, I didn’t give my life to the Lord nor did I fellowship with Him. I just saw my faith as something I grew up with. I said I believed and trusted God, but when it came down to my fruit showing, it didn’t blossom yet.
In college, I had my spiritual breakthrough. At that time, basketball was an idol in my life; it was above everything else. I put everything I had into basketball and tried to use God along the way to get to a Division I school. I was still indulging in sin — partying and drinking. But in my first year of junior college I broke my foot, which was a small wake-up moment for me. I called my mom, my mentor and my pastor, who each told me to get back in the Word, go back to church and start praying. My motivation behind it was only so I could get back on the court. But it’s crazy how God’s Word does not come back void. God says that “if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). God really blessed me that summer; I came back healthier and started to gain notoriety in my sport. But when I got back to campus that fall, I fell right back into sin again. Once I felt better physically, I moved on from my relationship with God.
God will sometimes go to extremes to get our attention, though. The first day of practice that year, I tore my ACL. Suddenly I had my epiphany moment with the Lord. He kept taking basketball away until I realized what an idol it was in my life. I was finally able to repent of that. After surgery, while I was laying on the bed in agony and pain, I was crying out to God and I said, “I’ll serve You regardless of if I play basketball ever again.” That’s when I experienced His peace which transcends understanding. He continues to mold me to be more like Christ.
Who have been the mentors in your life? How did God bring these people into your life?
My mom was everything for my faith. Being able to see her worship and go through the things she had to go through while raising us was huge. She worked hard to provide a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on our backs. When I look back and see how she did it, I know it only could have been God. She gave me the visual representation of what faith in God looks like.
And then my pastor introduced me to studying Scripture, prayer and understanding the Holy Spirit in my life. As a 70-year-old best friend, he really molded me in my understanding of God.
What does the Increase of Christ mean to you?
This means the world. I love the verse John 3:30 because it gives us a chance to truly surrender so God can work through us. The more we can get out of His way, the more He can do through us. When we come into the faith, we’re on fire and want to do work for the Kingdom, but if we haven’t surrendered yet, we can get in the way.
What is your life verse and why?
One of my favorite verses is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This verse I hold close to my heart because it touches base on everything. It reassures me that this is God’s will for me, which then gives me assurance to continue to rejoice and pray to Him.
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