I recently saw photos of two football teams gathered in prayer. The photos appeared in the media during the same week for vastly different reasons.
One team came together to pray because one of their star players was knocked unconscious and had to be stretchered from the field. The other team had gathered to pray following a victory on the field.
Two teams, both praying—but experiencing vastly different emotions. I found myself wondering who led prayers for the injured ballplayer? Did a team captain call the team together, or was it another player? How do you pray when a teammate is badly injured in the midst of a game? And what motivates a team to pray after an important win? Does the team also pray after losing? Do the same players lead the prayers on each occasion? Or do the coaches initiate prayer times on the field?
If you’re an athlete, do you pray when you step onto the field, or ready yourself for the start of a race? Are you known as one who prays as well as being known as a competitive athlete? Do you pray for your opponents as well as for your own team? Do your teammates know they can ask you for prayer when they are struggling on or off the field? Is your life different because you pray daily?
“Lord, teach us to pray!” was the request made by some of Jesus’ first disciples. Like them we can let out an urgent cry when an injury brings down a teammate: “Lord, have mercy!” “Lord, help!” “Be with the trainers and doctors who are treating my injured friend!” “Lord, help our teammate regain full health and strength!”
In celebrating a victory, we can express our gratitude: “Thanks, Lord, for the joys of winning!” “Thanks, Lord, for coaches who’ve helped us train and prepare!” “Thanks, Lord, for the referees who enforce the rules of our game.”
While processing a tough loss, we can pray for God’s wisdom: “Lord, help us learn from this loss!” “Help us accept this setback without unfairly blaming our teammates.” “Bring us together as a team, Lord. Help us make adjustments and prepare well for our next game.”
"Lord, help us to pray! Lord, teach me to pray!"