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.
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
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