God Hears Your Super Bowl Prayers?


Sourced from Chris­tian­i­ty Today

NFL fans know it’s near­ly impos­si­ble to get through a foot­ball game with­out ref­er­ence to God. Whether Tebow­ing on the side­lines, giv­ing a shoutout on ESPN, or point­ing to heav­en after a touch­down, plen­ty of play­ers rec­og­nize that God’s a part of the game.

Chris­tians need to stop act­ing like that’s a bad thing, accord­ing to apol­o­gist and the­olo­gian William Lane Craig. He’s the one they should be pray­ing to and thank­ing, says Craig, a pro­fes­sor at Bio­la Uni­ver­si­ty’s Tal­bot School of The­ol­o­gy and author of Rea­son­able Faith.

CT’s Kate Shell­nutt spoke with Craig about prayer, prov­i­dence, and pigskin in light of Sun­day’s big game.

Recent polls have found at least a quar­ter of Amer­i­cans pray for sports teams, and that num­ber is even high­er among evan­gel­i­cals. As a the­olo­gian, what do these stats tell you?

I think it shows how deeply com­mit­ted they are to their teams that they would feel com­pelled to pray about it! In fact, it’s almost irre­sistible for some­one who is on a team to pray that God would help him to do a good job and to win and to pre­vail. I don’t think that there’s any­thing the mat­ter with that type of prayer, so long as one adds the caveat, nev­er­the­less “not my will, but thy will be done.”

What’s the val­ue in pray­ing for God’s will to be done for the out­come of a game if God’s will will be done whether we pray or not?

Now that’s a ques­tion about prayer in gen­er­al. What good does it do to pray about any­thing if the out­come is not affect­ed? I would say when God choos­es which world to actu­al­ize, he takes into account the prayers that would be offered in that world. We should­n’t think prayer is about chang­ing the mind of God. He’s omni­scient; he already knows the future, but prayer makes a dif­fer­ence in that it can affect what world God has cho­sen to create.

Pey­ton Man­ning is a Chris­t­ian, but he says he does­n’t pray to win games. He said, “I pray to keep both teams injury free, and per­son­al­ly, that I use what­ev­er tal­ent I have to the best of my abil­i­ty.” Is it wrong or should we feel bad for pray­ing for a win?

No, I think it’s fine for Chris­t­ian ath­letes to pray about those things so long as they under­stand, as I say, that the per­son on the oth­er team is also pray­ing, and that some of these prayers will go unan­swered in the prov­i­dence of God. Ulti­mate­ly, one is sub­mit­ting one­self to God’s prov­i­dence, but I see noth­ing the mat­ter with pray­ing for the out­come of these things. They’re not a mat­ter of indif­fer­ence to God. God cares about these lit­tle things, so it’s appropriate.

I do want to say that there are far more appro­pri­ate things that the Chris­t­ian ath­lete ought to be pray­ing for. He should be pray­ing for his own char­ac­ter and devel­op­ment, to be a per­son of integri­ty, fair play, good sports­man­ship, self-dis­ci­pline, civil­i­ty toward the oppo­nent, and so forth. Those are the real­ly impor­tant moral qual­i­ties that I think God wants to devel­op in a Chris­t­ian athlete.

We’re also used to see­ing foot­ball play­ers point to the heav­ens in the end zone after they score or thank God on TV after a win. Why do you think some Chris­tians are embar­rassed by that? Why does that make us uncomfortable?

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