Should we pray about a football game?
Players pray before the game. They invoke the name of God before they go to the field. When touchdowns are scored, they point to the sky as if to say, “thanks God for your favor.” Fans join in with asking God for their team to win.
What does God have to do with a football game? Does he really care if the Ravens or the 49ers win? Is this really some epic spiritual battle where God would have a vested interest? Isn’t he too busy with big things like terrorism or evangelistic crusades in third world countries?
I think the way we answer that reflects our attitude about God and his involvement in every day life. It also reveals our thinking about what God might be up to. Let me first answer the question above. Yes, we should pray about a football game. Let me give you a few reasons that I think are wholly biblical.
1. First, God cares about the players (1 Peter 5:5-7; Luke 12:5-7; Matt. 6:30). When you get a raise in your job, do you give thanks to God? I hope so. You see, we believe for us mere mortals, God does care about the details of our lives. For some of these players, this is an opportunity for them to move ahead in their careers. And God cares about them. He also wants them to depend on him for his providential care. Some of these players are his children. As for the rest, he would like them to be. So, what about those who lose? We pray that God will care for them too in a way that they see his love. Along with the players, there are thousands of people working the game. He cares about each of their situations too.
2. Second, God cares about this opportunity (Colossians 4:2-6). This game is on the world stage. And God wants to place his children strategically in the stands, in the media booths, in family rooms and maybe even sports bars all around this country. His Spirit will lead many to walk through the open door of sharing His good news with others. Christians will have many opportunities to be salt and light. And to share an answer for the hope that is within them.
3. Third, this is a spiritual battle (Matthew 6:13). Over the weekend, many will be tempted. Believers and unbelievers will be tempted to idolize players and the sport itself. A materialistic lifestyle will be promoted in every commercial. People will be encouraged to hate their enemies. Immorality and crudeness will be the order of the day. And at the end of the day, many will be further from God then when it started.
Yes, but should we pray for our team to win? I think God can handle the dichotomy of some of his children wanting one team to win and others wanting another to win. And so, go ahead and ask for that. Usuredly, some will find a “yes” and others a “no.” But more importantly, pray for people to see God as the one who cares about the details of their lives. Pray for an open door to share the gospel. And pray for God not to “lead us into temptation.”