Everyone sits in rows together. Sometimes they lift their hands up and rejoice. Other times they bow their heads and pray. No, I’m not talking about Sunday morning at church. I’m talking about Sunday afternoon at the stadium (or in this case, Thursday night).
Yes, sports can feel like religion at times.
Why do we do this? Why do we get sucked into the craze of an athletic event and put so much focus on wishing—and praying—that one team scores more points than another?
We know why we do this. Because we love the game. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s an outlet from the stress at work. It’s a way to unite with family, friends, and community for a common purpose. Sports can bring people together unlike anything else. And we always want to win because winning makes it even more fun.
Then there are those moments in sports that take your breath away. It could be the game-winning play or the underdog who defies all odds or, unfortunately, the dramatic injury.
Thursday night football this week featured the Philadelphia Eagles versus the Green Bay Packers. It was battle among elite teams who have a lot to prove. The game took place on Green Bay’s home field and the fans were raucous as always. But late in the game as the Packers were frantically trying to tie it up, Eagles player Avonte Maddox went down after a vicious hit.
In the moments that followed, the buzzing crowd became silent, the trainers rushed out on the field, and both teams knelt in prayer. The cameras even captured Green Bay’s JK Scott and Ty Summers vocally praying as trainers placed their opponent, Maddox, on a stretcher.
It was an inspiring scene. No longer did you have the Packers fighting with the Eagles. Instead, you had the Packers praying with Eagles.
The next day I saw something on Twitter that caught my eye and got me thinking.
What happens when each team prays for a win…How does God choose ?
— Account # (@1ChooseUsername) September 27, 2019
@1ChooseUsername responded to the video posted by CBS Sportscaster Kyle Boone. He tweeted “Nice sportsmanship. What happens when each team prays for a win . . . How does God choose?”
Now, I’m not naïve to the fact that people pray for their teams to win. I get that. It happens. I don’t know how God answers that kind of prayer. But what I took away from the post-injury scene is that prayer unites people in the same way sports can. When we all put aside our differences and pray, amazing things can happen. I like to think that as Maddox was lying there motionless, nobody was praying for victory over another, but all were united and praying for the player to be OK. That definitely IS the kind of prayer God hears.
It doesn’t matter what side you’re on. Wherever two or more are gathered in God’s name, there He will be. And win or lose . . . that’s something worth rejoicing.
The Eagles tweeted an injury update on Avonte Maddox and stated he was diagnosed with a concussion and neck injury, but doctors determined he was safe to travel with the team to undergo further testing. It sounds like he’ll be OK. Perhaps those prayers were answered.
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