The Apostle Paul wrote about running the race of faith so as to obtain the prize.  What prize?  Obviously he was talking about salvation.  Ok, if the prize is salvation, what is the alternative?  Not being saved must be it.  As I’ve often put it, in the judgment it will be one of two scenarios: either we will hear “Well done…”, or we will BE “well done”.  That’s about as clear as I can make it.  The Lord Jesus made salvation available to “whosoever will”.  That means He has already done His part, and the rest is up to us.  So how much do we value the prize?
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
1Co 9:24  Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
1Co 9:25  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
1Co 9:26  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
1Co 9:27  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
   Paul put a lot of value on the prize, which he described as an incorruptible crown.  So much in fact, that he was willing to suffer whatever it took to obtain it.  Bringing that thought into this day and age, the prize has not changed, nor has the way the devil works..  The devil uses the lure of worldly things to try to get our eyes off the prize of eternal life, trying to make it appear that worldly things are more valuable than eternal life with Christ Jesus.
   Being Paul used the example of a race, let’s do the same here.  Suppose you enter a race to run ten miles.  Well, ten miles is a pretty difficult race, and it takes a lot of training and conditioning in order to finish it.  And it takes a lot more discipline to train hard enough not to just finish the race, but to finish it in first place.  So what is the motivator?  The prize: it’s all about the prize.  Would you be motivated to train hard enough to win that race if the prize was ten million dollars?  Would you endure the miles and miles of running when you didn’t feel like it, enduring the cramps and muscle pain and the lungs screaming out for more oxygen, to force your body to run farther and faster?  Would you run when it was hot, cold, raining, snowing, whether you were tired or not?  You would if you were motivated by that ten million dollars.  But what if the first prize was just a cheap plastic plaque that said “FIRST PRIZE TEN MILE RACE”?  Would you endure all that suffering for that?  I know I sure wouldn’t.
Why did Paul endure all the suffering he went through for preaching the Gospel?  In his own words in Philippians 3:10-14;
Php 3:10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Php 3:11  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Php 3:12  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Php 3:13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Php 3:14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

   You see, Paul wasn’t competing for a cardboard crown like you can put on at Burger King.  The prize he was contending for was precious beyond being able to put a value on it.  And it’s the same prize YOU are contending for; that is if you know Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Now, let’s expand a bit on this:  there is an eternal benefit to running and winning this race.  But did you know there are also benefits in this life?  As you may know, I teach about healing every opportunity I get.  It is written in Psalm 103:2-4,
Psa 103:2  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Psa 103:3  Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Psa 103:4  Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
   Does that mean I don’t have any part in these benefits?  No, I DO have a part, in that I have to believe and act upon these scriptures.  I have to put them in my heart so often that they rule my thoughts, my words, and my life.  In other words, I don’t get healed just because verse three says Jesus heals all my diseases, I am running a race here to WIN.  I’m doing whatever it takes to keep the devil from talking me out of my healing.  When a pain or symptom comes upon me, I rebuke it in His name, being fully and absolutely convinced of the truth of the scriptures that the Lord Jesus did indeed heal all my diseases.  I don’t let doubt creep into my thinking.  If doubt tries to come upon me, I rebuke it so fast the devil is left standing there with his mouth hanging open.  I don’t wait until he has sunk his hooks in me to start doing something, I resist him at the very onset of his attack with the Word of God.  Why?  I value the prize, so much in fact, that I’m not willing that the devil or anyone else is going to wrestle it away from me.
   And don’t you know, there are many well-meaning people that are being used by the devil to try to convince you that healing isn’t for today.  Well, if that were so, then salvation isn’t for today either, and we are all lost with no hope for eternity.  Thank God, healing AND salvation is for today for “whosoever will”.  It’s all about the prize.  Do you want it enough to contend for it with every ounce of strength in you?  Or do you just see the prize as a cheap plastic plaque?
   If you’re a “whosoever will”, and I believe you are, then this is the race you want to be in, for the race is for your soul, and where you will spend eternity.  Don’t let the devil tell you the race has been cancelled, because it hasn’t.  Don’t let him tell you that you’re not qualified to enter.  You already ARE entered.  Don’t let him convince you that you can’t win, because YOU CAN!!!!   And you MUST win.  Just keep your eyes on the prize and you’ll do just fine.