“Lord God, please let my team win today,” might be something which finds its way into your prayers during football season.
Yes, I confess, I have prayed it too. These aren’t my best moments in prayer, but I am sincere in them.
We are told that God loves us and hears our prayers. However, perhaps you’ve wondered what does God do when he has people praying in opposition to each other?
I love the sound of “football follies,” but it hurt my heart to realize folly is defined as “lack of good sense; foolishness,” because we are definitely told to avoid being foolish but rather to seek wisdom.
I hope that I have enough wisdom to bring some light to this. Maybe your comments will bring further insight into something which holds so much importance to a large number of passionate Christians, especially those whose livelihood and stability depend on the game.
I remember in Sunday school class when this discussion about football and conflicting prayers came up. I volunteered, “I don’t think we are asking the right questions.”
The pastor, the shrewd devil (is that wrong to say of someone you appreciate?), asked, “What questions should we ask then?”
The quarterback gave the ball right back to me, and I had to run. That was a perfect example of the power of questions. But the question seemed heavier than I could handle. I threw up a quick prayer.
So like a quick-footed running back, I found my way to safety by trusting the playbook and adapting on the go.
First in mind came the verses which say God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
This gave me some breathing room to hustle forward.
Then I stumbled a bit.
“Wasn’t there a time in the Bible where someone asks of one of God’s angels, whose side are you on? Mine or theirs? And didn’t the angel say I’m not on either side, but God’s alone?” I half wondered if I had made that up.
Teammates came in to help us move forward, blocking my insecurity about the changing field of play.
“Joshua 5,” some gracious soul shared.
Then someone read Joshua 5:13-15:
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped[c] and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
I wasn’t completely correct. The angel didn’t say I’m not on either side, but God’s alone, but it was pretty close. It was close enough for us to continue moving downfield.
That passage helped us see a few things:
- God’s ways are not our ways.
- God does love us, but His purposes don’t necessarily fit our idea of the territories we define and defend by having a favorite football team or anything else.
- Joshua had the response we should have by asking, “What does my lord say to his servant?” where he acknowledges that God’s ways supersede his personal desires, even though in this case lives were at stake rather than a football game’s score.
- Joshua heard the commands required, and he did so. This is a great example for us.
Would it be wrong for me to yell, “Go Team Jesus!” here?
Did we score a touchdown?
I think we did, because in our playbook, the Bible, we are given the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) and the issue isn’t our preferences, but God’s holy desire that none should suffer the justice He placed on Jesus if they come to Him through Jesus.
If you aren’t sure about what this means and are interested in finding out more, please visit: www.peacewithGod.net.