Surfing Can Be a Religious Experience

Prayer is simply talking with God

Dropping In: Experience the Life You Were Meant to Live


“Surfing Can Be A Religious Experience” – Tom Curren 3X World Champion

Prayer is simply talking with God. Every follower of Jesus has a direct line of communication to God that is always available to us. Over the years of growing as a Christian, I’ve learned that prayer is more than words or an activity. Prayer is an experience and ongoing conversation in a loving relationship. 

A significant way I grow in my relationship with my wife is to talk, to listen, to communicate (after twenty- three years of marriage I still have a long way to go here). This is critical to grow as friends and as husband and wife. Likewise, it is critical we talk with God and listen to him, in order to grow in our relationship.

Prayer is simple. As we pray, we are telling our father what we desire and trust that he will do what is best. Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 7:7-11: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will nd; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks nds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

To live this life of prayer and be in the presence of God day in and day out, there are several practices I aim to consistently live out. By living these prayer disciplines, I better communicate with God and our relationship grows. As my pastor recently told me, “We learn to pray by praying.” 

1. Set a consistent time each day to converse with God. 

One of the first things I do each day is check the surf. There are numerous websites that will tell us what the waves are like, the forecast for the rest of the day and the week, and when it is best to paddle out. However, even before I look at the waves, I spend time reading my Bible and praying. Jesus prayed early as we see in Mark 1:35: And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed (ESV). Each day I pray for wisdom in the various facets of my life. A great model of prayer is given by Jesus himself in Matthew 6:9-13: Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (ESV). 

2. Pray throughout the day. The Psalmist prays throughout the day: Seven times a day I praise you(Psalm 119:164). 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray without ceasing. My son and I pray together before each heat in our various surfing competitions. I pray with my kids as we drive to school or go on errands together. We pray before our meals. God wants us to communicate with him throughout our days. 

3. Prayer Paddling - Surfing is an excellent time to talk with God. I will paddle and pray while doing so, especially when I am alone. Of course, when a wave comes to me, I will drop in and surf it, then paddle back while praying. There is something that helps me connect with God by praying, and even singing, out loud while I am in the ocean. When I am not in the ocean, I like to prayer walk. I walk my neighborhood, the campus I work, or wherever in the world I am (with my travel schedule, I mean that quite literally). Prayer walking and prayer paddling is also a great way to get some exercise while connecting with God. 

4. Follow the WAVE Model of Prayer - When I pray, as I paddle or walk, early in the morning with my cup of coffee, or throughout the day, I often follow the WAVE model of prayer. 

Worship - Worshiping God reminds us of who he is and of his love and care for us. Jesus modeled this in his teaching about prayer in Matthew 6:9: Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”(ESV). When I am using the WAVE model of prayer, I simply say things like, “God, you are all-knowing, you are gracious, you are loving, and you are kind. God, you are so good, you are beautiful, you are gracious and merciful.” 

Admit your Sin - The A in the WAVE model of prayer stands for admission. It’s important to confess our sins and ask forgiveness. This reconnects us in our fellowship with God. Our relationship with God is unchanged by sin, but our fellowship is damaged. Fellowship is a word that is defined by sharing, being in community with, and partaking together. When I sin toward God, I simply say, “God, you know where I have failed you. Please forgive my selfishness, for the way I spoke to my children or wife, for my impure thoughts...” The Bible clearly says in 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (ESV). Admitting our sin brings us back into right fellowship with God. 

Voice Gratitude - The V in WAVE stands for voice your gratitude. Psalm 118:1 says, Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. I thank God for my wife and children, my parents and sisters, for the opportunity I have to breathe each day, the gift of life, the gift of surfing, and so much more! On a way home from surfing in Cocoa Beach recently, my son looked at me and said, “Dad, thanks so much for taking me; I appreciate it.” I loved hearing gratitude from my son. God loves to hear gratitude from his children as well. 

Earnestly Ask - You may find this hard to believe, but God wants to hear what we want from him. Recently, I read a birthday wish list from one of my boys. As I looked at his list, I smiled. I loved what I was reading. No, he would likely not receive all he was asking - and it was quite a long list - but as his father, I want what was appropriate for him. Jesus speaks to this when he says, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-9, ESV) 

During this time of prayer, I ask God for wisdom in parenting and decision making, I pray for my children, for our leaders, and other things going in my life at the time. 

And yes, I often do pray for surf! 

Read more about prayer in my new book, Dropping In: Experience the Life You Were Meant to Live. Go to to order you copy. 

Learn more about prayer in the new book, Dropping In:

Experience the Life You Were Meant to Live