Monday, January 16, 2012

On Prayer: Does God Care About Football



Recently there has been a lot of press about Tim Tebow and his public display of prayer relating to his performance in football.  Many even describe games won as "miracles."  But, does God really care about who wins in football?  Is this how God intended for us to pray?  Is this what we are supposed to to be praying for?


To me this public display of prayer seems a bit misguided as we do not pray to God for our self gain, but for His forgiveness, for His help to do His will, to give thanks for the blessing we have received from Him, that He will accept us in His kingdom.  Our relationship with God is about joining with Him in heaven with eternal life.  Our aim is not success in sports, business, school or any other worldly gain.  It is about being accepted in heaven, of being able to set our ego aside to do His will, to love Him with our whole heart and to love others as we love ourselves.


So how are we to pray?  Jesus tells us to go to a private place and in quite to pray.
He says,
When you pray, you shall not be like hypocrites.  For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men... When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the  secret place and your Father who sees in secret will reward openly. (Mat 6: 5-6)
Immediately following this instruction He gives us the Lord's prayer as the proper way to pray.  In this prayer we ask for His Kingdom to come, we ask for His forgiveness, we ask for His protection from evil forces.  He also tells us not to worry about physical things and desires, but to practice love of others and be forgiving.  He asks us to trust in Him, not for worldly gain, but  to lay up "treasures in heaven" (Mat 6:19).


A common public display for Orthodox Christians is the making of the cross on our body.  But this too is not to be done in a way as to attract public attention.  We have another football star Troy Polamalu  who like Mr Tebow takes this practice to an extreme using this sign in a public manner after good plays in football..


We are to pray continually, but this is a prayer of the heart which is said internally, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.  This is a prayer of repentance so we can come closer to God and be united with him in His Kingdom. Its an expression of humility, not pride in our accomplishment.


One of my favorite prayers is the morning prayer
Most holy God, we pray and beseech You, give each of us a pure heart and a way of speaking that befits the faith we profess; grant us uprightness of purpose, powers of reasoning unhindered by passions, conduct that becomes those who fear You, and perfect knowledge of Your commandments; may we enjoy health in body and in spirit.Grant us a life of peace, genuine faith and living hope, sincere charity and bountiful generosity, patience that knows no bounds and the light of Your truth to proclaim Your goodness to us, that for ever and in all things placing our trust only in You, we may abound in every good work, and that in Christ Your gifts may increase in every soul.For to You belong all glory, honor and majesty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Prayer is an essential part of our Christain spiritual journey.  We need to have a daily prayer discipline with specific times for payer in the morning and evening at a minimum.


To pray we should find a quiet private place where we will not be disturbed. This may be a corner in the bedroom (a room divider can help make a special place), space in a walk-in closet, or, if you are fortunate to have an extra room, a special room that is only for prayer. It needs to be a place where you can be undisturbed and alone. You begin praying by focusing your consciousness in your heart and forcibly gathering there all the powers of the soul and body. Take the time at the beginning of your prayer time to quiet your body and to concentrate your energies in your heart. 


More on daily prayer in the Orthodox tradition.

2 comments:

  1. It's still good to see him giving glory to God. I don't assume to know his heart, only God knows that. I don't assume to know what he prays for... only he and God know that as well. Saint Paul made it clear that even if someone preaches the gospel for gain, no matter, at least it's being preached! The idea of going somewhere quiet to pray refers to the silent prayer of the heart, not just a physical place to pray. It bothers me about Orthodox that they constantly draw legalistic conclusions about other people's faith, people they don't even know! I've experienced such judgemental spirit in Baptist, Catholic, and denominations you and I might consider heretical! Keep going Tim, and anyone else out there who puts The Kingdom of God first! Even in the face of others who claim to be Christians! I refuse to put God in a box!!! Matthew 5:11 comes to mind!

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  2. I love Tebow as a football player and as a wonderful human being who has a strong faith. He has excellent leadership skills. It is also true that Christians are to pray without ceasing which is the basis of the Jesus Prayer. We give thanks to God for all things.
    You raised a question I had not thought about, "what does Tebow pray for?" Here is what found:

    Here’s a Dan Wetzel column about a dramatic Broncos win in November.
    “That was a huge play,” Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow said. Yes, there was the rookie linebacker making a clutch, overtime tackle of San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert for a four-yard loss. The play forced the Chargers into a just-too-long 53-yard overtime field goal attempt that wound up off course.
    Not that Tebow saw either play.
    “I can’t say I saw too much of it,” Tebow said. “I was praying.”
    Praying for a miss?
    “I might have said that,” Tebow laughed. “Or maybe a block. Maybe all of it.”

    Here is a good video clip from game he was miked for that shows his strong character as well as what he prays for during a game. No matter what your views are about prayer it will affirm his good character. You cannot help but like this guy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grM2sb7VYSs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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