A discussion about praying for wins came up the other day. The consensus of the group was that while God isn’t a good luck charm, he always wants the “good guys” to win and can intercede if we pray hard enough. I took a deep breath and bit my tongue as I pictured the scene from the movie Bruce Almighty.
If you’re not familiar with the movie it’s worth watching. The part I pictured is where Bruce is given the powers and responsibilities of God. He takes a shortcut on dealing with prayers and answers yes to every prayer from every person.
Chaos begins as everyone who prayed to win the lottery does, so they each get something like a penny. Multiple people are offered the same jobs and so on.
The point is, that we can’t assume when we want something that we’re the only ones praying for it to swing in our favor. Additionally, it’s likely that both sides view themselves as “the good guys” since that’s a subjective view in a world where all sin is equal.
The truth is that God is not a good luck charm, nor a puppet. And just as he has free will, he has given us the gift to choose what we do and how we do things, it’s why a relationship with him is the foundation of faith. And that is also the reason I don’t pray for wins.
Winning as an Answer to Prayer Means:
- Weightlifting doesn’t matter
- Practice is a waste of time
- Players don’t need to be coachable because it doesn’t matter what technique they use
- Working as a team is irrelevant
- Cheating shouldn’t be penalized (I mean, if that gets the win then God is okay with it!)
You get the picture right? Besides the fact that it’s very likely both teams have someone praying for a win when it comes to athletic competition we cannot take a passive role and expect God to step in and give us what we want.
How I Pray
I don’t pray for wins, but I still pray for our team and for our competitions.
- I pray our players will stay injury free
- I pray those that are injured will heal correctly and quickly
- I pray our team will play their hardest
- I pray the coaches will stay healthy
- I pray for excellent discernment for the refs
- I pray for safety traveling
- I pray the players will apply themselves in the classroom
I cannot control which team is stronger. That’s determined by the amount of weightlifting the players do in combination with their age and genetics. I cannot control which team keeps their cool and which one acts a fool and frankly, teams that pick fights and play cheap do not deserve to win even if they pray. Finally, I cannot control which players are academically ineligible. So instead of praying for a win, I pray that the effort of preparation will reveal itself with every competition.
Ultimately isn’t that what should happen in an athletic competition? Don’t we all feel better when the team that plays better on that day wins? So, instead of blaming God for a loss let’s take a step back and encourage our athletes to do some self-reflection. What is in their control that can improve the chances of winning? Let’s start there, and let the rest of the details fall where they may.