I often wonder whether God responds to prayers about sports.
I remember watching this football game where Boston College and Notre Dame were playing, and it was really close and dramatic. I can’t remember what year. Some time in the ’90’s. I’m sure there are sports fans out there who remember this game in more detail than I do. Anyway, they showed the players of both teams on the sidelines, kneeling and holding hands in prayer. I can’t remember who won, but clearly God could not answer the prayers of both teams.
Most of the time I try to pray for “noble” things when it comes to sports. For example, before my tennis team plays, I’ll pray that everyone stays injury-free, that we play to the best of our abilities, and that we are kind to ourselves, our partners, and our opponents.
And when I’m desperate, I pray that we win. But since I’m ambivalent about whether this is a good use of prayer, it usually goes something like this:
I know you’re busy with more important things and you probably don’t intervene in things like sporting events, but if it’s OK to pray for, please let my team win. I read that angels can intervene if you let them, so maybe you could just send one angel our way. If you say no, I totally understand.
It’s sort of a neurotic prayer, I know, but I’m a neurotic person, so what did you expect?
Today I really wanted UVA to win. My prayer was sort of like a conversation with God during our last drive:
God, you must have intervened when Maryland completed that pass on 3rd and 23, so if there’s any way you can keep this drive alive for us, please do so. Please let us get this one win. We really need it. In fact, if we win, I’ll make my blog about prayer today.
And I have to say, there were some pretty miraculous things that happened to give us a chance to win: calls that went our way, unexpected turnovers on Maryland’s part, penalties that helped us complete first downs. Everything seemed to be poised for an upset. In the end our 2nd string kicker had a chance to win the game with a field goal, but he didn’t make it, so we lost by 1 point.
It was a heartbreaking loss, but I do believe my prayer was answered. I think the most we can ask for is to be given the chance to make something happen for ourselves, and we had that. The rest is up to us.
So I decided to write a blog on prayer, anyway.
P.S. My friend who is a hard core ND fan knew what game I was talking about:
Nov. 20, 1993: ND (#1) vs. BC (#17) in the last regulation game of the season; BC won 41-39.
P.P.S. They just showed Texas A&M players kneeling and holding hands while Johnny Manziel leads them in prayer. Their kicker makes a field goal with 4 seconds left, beating Ole Miss 41-38.