We hear it often in post-game interviews in almost every sport. “I was just praying that I’d make that field goal… we really needed a win.” Or, “That last pit stop was really crucial… I was just praying my guys would get us to the front for this win.” Or, “As she was on the free-throw line, I was praying for God to help her make those shots.” Players and coaches often speak of praying for wins. Fans also pray for their team to win… but when people for both sides are praying, what is the expected outcome?
I don’t think it is evil to pray for wins, but it may reveal a misunderstanding of what prayer is supposed to be about. And, it may expose the fact that we need to raise our view of prayer. Prayer isn’t a rabbit’s foot or four-leaf-clover or some other good-luck charm, it is the precious privilege of communication with our heavenly Father. The apostle Paul showed that he understood that in the way that he prayed for his friends in Colossians 1:9-12:
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
Notice that he prayed for the things that have eternal value. That doesn’t mean that the day-to-day things of life are unimportant to God, but that they have to be kept in perspective. The games we play (and watch) are important to us for the moment… but Paul’s focus was on the stuff that is important forever. Everything that is a concern to us is a concern to God (Hebrews 4:15-16), but not all of those concerns have equal value or significance. So, as we pray, let’s make sure we understand the value of this privilege and not make it less than it really is. Let’s focus our prayers on the things that matter most.
Join us tomorrow on Sports Spectrum radio as we take a further look at the need for healthy perspective on prayer as we face the challenges of life.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain