Prayer on the Field – Does the Lord take sides?
Tom Drake, Johannesburg – Gunther Simmermacher’s article “With God on the pitch” (July 27) gave rise to thoughts about prayer in sport. I have in the past considered prayer on the playing field as somehow sacrilegious — the Lord does not take sides in contests of strength or physical skills, I thought, and I still have this opinion.
Mr Simmermacher seemingly is a football fan; most of the examples he cites are from that discipline. I, on the other hand, am a rugby man: hence the incidences which I quote.
It has always been a source of wonder to me that the great Springbok “enforcer”, Bakkies Botha, would bend a knee to the turf before the start of a match, bow his head, and have a moment’s communication with his God.
Following in his footsteps we have that huge and fearsome player Eben Etsebeth doing almost exactly the same thing. I have seen Bryan Habana, on the many occasions when he has scored, raise his eyes and his hand to the heavens in acknowledgement.
These are but a few instances — many, many more could be seen among top South African sides, from the Springboks on down.
And our cricketers as well; many times have I seen that acknowledgement after the taking of a wicket, or the scoring of a century.
I cannot know what passes through the mind of these players, but I have come to the belief — perhaps because I need to believe that way — that it could well be a prayer of gratitude for the ability with which God has gifted the player, for the talent, the opportunity, and most of all for the fortitude to use that talent.
Many have the physical ability but perhaps lack the strength of character to use that with which they have been blessed. The fortitude is God’s gift as well as the playing ability, but the man must use that gift.
Perhaps the players I mention are simply asking the Lord not necessarily for a winning outcome, but simply for the grace to use well what they have been given. I like to think so.