By Joe Torosian
“Make it a good one, Strap.”—Norman Dale, Boys Basketball HC, Hickory High School
A heads-up for the easily offended; This column is about praying for victory, winning, and/or for your student/child/favorite athlete to have success.
The overly-pious, grossly self-righteous, and egregiously sanctimonious will immediately claim that God/god has more important things to do than to worry about your team or child hitting a baseball.
Well, if your god is a small “g” god, then you’re right. But if you view your God as a big “G” God, then nothing is impossible because the big “G” has the three “O’s” (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence) in his skill set.
End of the theology tangent…
Have you ever tried to make a deal with God so your team could win?
I used to do it all the time. My first “Please God…” prayer was late in the fourth quarter of the 1974 NFC Championship game between the Rams and Vikings. I executed the same prayer at halftime of the 1975 NFC Championship game from the closed end of the Coliseum. It went unanswered as the Rams went from being down 21-0 at the break to losing 37-7.
My prayer for the Rams in 1976 seemed like it was answered when they beat the Cowboys in Dallas, but then they lost in Minnesota the following week to the Vikings.
The desperate—”let my team win“—prayer begins with the initial plea.
“Please, God, let them just win one game. Just one.” I can sound off the names of a dozen or more Little League coaches/parents over the years who have uttered that prayer.
“Please God, just let her hit the ball. It doesn’t have to be a base hit, just don’t let her strikeout.”
Any of that sound familiar?
I haven’t even got to the part where we start offering God something in return.
“Please, God, let them win…And I’ll never ask for anything else ever again. I swear!”
That deal of never asking for anything ever again is very sincere and quickly forgotten. Because we go from praying for one win—at least—to praying for a winning record. “God, I’m not asking for the playoffs, just let them have a winning record…And I’ll never ask for anything else ever again. I swear!”
Then comes the renegotiated playoff prayer. Where you ask for just one victory in the playoffs and in trade, you promise to go back to church for a month or (depending on your level of desperation) longer.
“God, I’m not asking for them to win…But please, please, just let them go to the Super Bowl once, just once…” (This is the official prayer of every Detroit Lions & Cleveland Browns fan) “…And I won’t ask for anything else. They don’t have to win, and I’ll go to church and do something nice for my wife. I swear!”
How does a New England Patriots fan pray?
“Lord of the Underworld, Satan, grant us victory…”
I’m sure the Patriots fan going into last year’s Super Bowl against the Rams or coming into this season prayed something along these lines:
“God, can you just let us win one more time. Just once more, Brady’s getting old, Belichick’s going to retire and my children are just getting old enough now to understand. Please, God. Just one more time and I’ll never ask for anything ever again. I swear!”
I’ve done it. I didn’t make a deal with God, but I did ask him to let my middle child to at-least kick the ball once while she was playing soccer. (Prayer unanswered). And I did pray in advance that my youngest daughter–the one most likely to work Black-Ops for the CIA–wouldn’t start a fight in her next game. (Prayer answered.)
I’ve been in situations as a sportswriter where I asked the Lord to bless a teen in a difficult moment during a game. I’ve asked for a team—that had always been an underdog—to taste a little bit of the glory (you know, to see what it taste’s like).
There’s nothing wrong with any of it. Who hasn’t prayed for their kids to have joy? Who hasn’t prayed for a beautiful moment when a community can come together to celebrate a victory? Who hasn’t prayed to share a moment with a loved one (Grandmother/Grandfather/Mom/Dad) when their favorite sports team wins?
Don’t be so uptight people. You’re not going to Hell if you pray for your team to win. You’re not doing wrong if you pray for your student or child to do well.
And don’t stress about keeping your end of the bargain with God. I’ve got some breaking news for you; God doesn’t do deals. He laughs, smiles, and continues to move forward with us.
Don’t stress…Enjoy the game…Enjoy your kid…Enjoy your team…Tell God what you’ll do for him if your prayer is answered…but know he’s laughing, …and know he’s enjoying the game with you.
The Dude abides…
1 Peter 2:9
Joe T. is the author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” … “Temple City & The Company of The Ages” … “The Dead Bug Tales” … “The Dark Norm” & “FaithViews for Storm Riders”…all five available through Amazon.com.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joet13b