The Relationship Between Sports and Prayer

A football.
1/2A football.(photo:
The Sportman's Bible
2/2The Sportman's Bible(photo: Holman Bible Publishers)
By Dr. Lajos BekefyJune 22nd, 2021

Breaking news in honor of Danish football player Christian Eriksen, who collapsed at the EC 2020 match in Copenhagen

We experienced rare moments towards the end of the first half of Saturday’s Danish-Finnish EB 2020 match. The strength of the Danish team, Christian Eriksen, collapsed on the pitch. The resumption of the match was suspended. At the Hungarian studio, M4 Sport/Budapest, Mme Judit Berkesi led the conversation. Her two fellow experts agreed that in this situation we should pray for Eriksen, and the same was said of the Hungarian mediation post in Copenhagen. And in the pictures, we also saw teammates surround the troubled partner with their eyes facing the spectators, and there were those who locked their hands in prayer. The news sounded hopeful about Eriksen’s improvement. Thank God! But let us stop for a moment on this topic: the relationship between sports and prayer.

Relationships between prayer and sports are sports psychological 2X2=4

A series of scientific studies, personal experiences, active practitioners of athletes, footballers and other performance sports, say: prayer has a performance-stimulating, unifying, concentration-strengthening, positive effect. But not only this but also in critical situations, such as on Saturday, the maintenance of hope, the spiritual tool of the struggle for life, which, moreover, is always at hand. In several matches, we see players who, before stepping on the pitch, bend down, touch the edge of the field, make a sign of the cross, or raise both hands to the sky. For example, Salah, a Muslim football player, even kneels spectacularly when he scores a goal, and others point their hands up and say “Thank God” or “Thank you, God”. Today, separate sports Bibles or a Bible for athletes are also published in various languages, and there are collections of prayers for athletes. In this genre, the largest Bible company in the world, the British, is ahead. The British and Welsh Bible Society has published their sports Bible with the title Bible Body Soul for almost ten years. It made news headlines yesterday when, after the Belgian-Russia match, Lukaku, the “bomber”, stated in a post-match interview: he also prayed for Christian Eriksen while playing.

The organic relationship between the Bible and sports has been around for 2000 years

We have only flashed a few biblical examples from the rich material. We quote the Apostle Paul, who uses sports terms several times in his letters. He writes to members of the Corinthian congregation about those who run from the racetrack, of whom only one takes the prize (1 Cor. 9:25); about running straight, the effort in Philippians (3:13-14); about the regular struggle to Timothy (And if anyone struggles, he is not crowned if he does not struggle properly - 2 Tim. 2:5); about the crown of truth gained after the run, the victorious life in Christ (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

Sports, culture, church, theology of the body

Dominic Erdozain, a professor at King’s College, London, discusses the links between sports and Protestant ethics. According to him, sport is the secular equivalent of Protestant ethics based on duty. He puts it specifically: “The modern Olympic movement was built on the moral logic of muscular Christianity. Motto: faster, higher, more powerful! That is, Christian and Nietzsche’s emerging man unite in the spirit of the movement”. The writing is also about athletes who have been able to combine faith and athletic performance, combat skills and renunciation at a high level.

David Oakley, a member of the International Organization of Sports Ambassadors, "Common Track", thinks (reconsiders) the relationship between sports and the church in his writing. In both society and the church, it is important for everyone to find their community and individual place and to use their individual abilities in team play with others for the benefit of the whole team. Synthia Sydnor is a professor of public health at the University of Illinois. She wrote thought-provoking statements entitled “Sport, Women, and the Mystical Body of Christ”. Pope John Paul II, based on the formulations of the once athletic Catholic priest, explained the “theology of the body”. Despite the original sin, the male and female bodies can be seen as a carrier of gifts, a socket for physical and spiritual abilities. He refers to the great exhortation of the apostle Paul: "Praise ye God in your body and soul, for they are God's" (1 Cor 6:20).

Lukaku celebrates God at every goal

An interview with Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian star soccer player on the website, was published the same day. The Inter Milan player is one of the most expensive football players in the world and a real bomber striker. His amazing performance shows that he found his opponent's goal 41 times in his 98 matches. He increased that yesterday as well. There is no interview, no voice in which it is obligatory to include the name of God, yet he does so. He told a Belgian sports newspaper that he prays for the national team every day and asks for God’s presence in the players and on the field as well. If you can read your Bible every day, you will feel good if you can do it three times a day. “Where is my strength? It is a gift from God.” In his prayers, he always mentions his family next to his teammates, and those of his friends who are just living their days in a difficult life situation, illness, or trial.

It is good to see and raise awareness: there is an original and organic connection between sports and prayer. It is even better to experience how this relationship really works in TV studios and on soccer fields. We finally got here. The best, purest doping agent is the living God and faith in Him. Let us stay with this evidence, the basic truth!

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