Prayer and Sports

ImageJosh Graves, pastor and author of “The Feast,” wrote an opinion piece that was very insightful. Below is a portion of what he wrote:

On November 28, 2010, Steven Johnson lined up as a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. On November 28, the Bills were playing the Pittsburgh Steelers and they ultimately lost the game because Johnson dropped a pass late in the game, in the end zone. After the game, Johnson tweeted, “I praise you 24/7!!! And this is how you do me!!! You expect me to learn from this??? How??? I’ll never forget this!! Ever!!” 

Johnson praised God 24/7, but what kind of God was he praising? It was a kind of religious transaction where he gives God the glory and God gives touchdowns. Or victories. Or Super Bowls. A fair exchange?

God ends up becoming a cosmic vending machine. 

Everything is well and good until Jesus makes you fumble. But this isn’t just Johnson’s problem. This way of approaching God shows up often and the best name for it is religion. And notice who is really in charge of this arrangement. You and me. Not God….

To paraphrase Anne Lamott: You know you’ve created God in your own image when God roots for all the same teams you root for (I’m looking at you Yankee and Cowboy fans). 

Here’s my short answer. Based on Christian scripture and practical experience, the purpose of prayer is for God to win. Not for you to win. Or your favorite team. Even if you are from Cleveland—though if anyone has a shot, God just might be rooting for you, Cleveland. (original article)

Is that how we think of prayer? Is prayer about us and what we want or is prayer about God shaping us into people of faith who adjust our wills to His will? It’s something to think about. God is far more concerned about the people in the stands than the score on the scoreboard, but His concern is not simply for their happiness and well-being. He is concerned for their souls, their character, and their daily actions. The prophet Micah revealed precisely what it was that the Lord desires from us: “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

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