I don’t imagine that the terms ‘prayer’ and ‘Sun on Sunday’ occur together very often. In fact, John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York (who seems to be a great guy) has a column in the paper every week. A good example of a church leader who refuses to stay in an ivory tower.
This week, he had a prayer for Andy Murray.
Loving God we are so filled with hope by the Wimbledon final today! Guide Andy Murray in the choices that come to him with every ball. Make us all the best that we can be, by your Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ, to the glory of God our Father. Amen.
And it wasn’t just one newspaper. “We’re all praying for you, Andy” was the headline in the Mail on Sunday.
I haven’t checked, but I’d be very surprised if any of the weekend newspapers in Switzerland had prayers for Roger!
And, as everyone knows, it was Roger who won.
So did God turn out to be more Swiss than British? Or did he just let the two of them battle it out until the best man won? (I wonder if the Mail on Sunday would have been calling for a national day of thanksgiving with a special service at St Paul’s if Murray had won).
It all raises a few questions. Is it OK to pray that our sports team will win? Does praying for the Wimbledon final simply trivialise prayer? Was the Mail’s headline little more than the equivalent of saying “we’ve got our fingers crossed and we are really hoping that Andy wins”? Does God determine the outcome of sporting events? Does he favour one nation over another in such contests? What would happen if national newspapers suggested prayers for weightier matters like the financial crisis, societal breakdown, the massacres in Syria?
And how should we pray for Andy Murray? Here are some ideas.
- To thank God for his common grace in sporting talent – something which brings enjoyment to many spectators.
- To pray that when Andy is successful, he will be able to thank God for giving him his talent and that he will not allow his success to define him.
- That when Andy fails (and losing in a major final is only a relative failure), he will not allow his failure to define him as a person.
- That God will surround Andy with good people who will help him in his career and protect him from people who might want to exploit his ability for their own profit.
- That Andy will come to know the love of the God who has made him and blessed him with his ability.
And we could pray the same for Roger.