I grew up in New England, so you can guess who I am rooting for to win the Super Bowl. I was an athlete and my two boys played college football, so we’ve been part of a few big games through the years.
And I’ve always prayed for a win.
Last year, the Public Religion Research Institute took a poll and reported that 25 percent of Americans believe God plays a role in determining the outcome of sporting events. Of the group I’m a part of, white evangelicals, 36 percent believe God plays a role in determining which team wins. And a full 40 percent of non-white Protestants believe this.
There’s another group that may have an even greater commitment to prayer during the Super Bowl: gamblers. Over $6 billion is being bet on this Super Bowl, the largest amount ever wagered. I bet many of them wouldn’t mind some divine intervention.
But the majority of people don’t believe you should pray for God’s help. I’m sure most of them think God has better things to do than concern himself with whether the Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl.
But the Bible tells us in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.” Everything includes sports. If you care about your team you can pray for them. Of course, this means there will be people praying for the opposite team.
You may pursue your dream job and go through the whole interview process. In the end the choice comes down to you and one other candidate. You are praying that you get it, and he is praying that he gets it. And both of you should be praying. But only one of you will get the job.
We can pray for success because God wants us to be successful. He wants us to live life to the fullest. My definition of success is fully living out your life’s purpose. God equips us with talents, gifts, passions and opportunities. And He expects us to fulfill our potential. When we do, we are a success.
Genesis 39:23 tells us, “The Lord was with Joseph and made him successful in all that he did.” We can certainly pray for God to make us successful too. For the players in Sunday’s game, success means doing their very best with the gifts, talents and opportunity God gave them. They can certainly pray for that and we can pray that for them as well.
Every week a group of pastors and singers meet right before each of our services. We gather backstage and pray for the service. We pray for God’s presence, for the Spirit’s anointing, for every person to be impacted in a powerful way. And we pray that each of us who will be on the stage will do our very best – that God will use us to be a blessing to His people that day.
I live in a city with no professional sports team. My youngest son moved to Boston late last year. I would like him to experience what it is like when your city’s team wins a world championship. Especially since he is a diehard Patriots fan and he played football for 15 years. A dad can pray that for his son.
So, pray for your team on Sunday. Pray that every player on the team plays to his fullest potential. It’s likely that the ones who don’t on either team will decide the outcome of the game.
And if by some chance all the players perform to their fullest ability, then the Super Bowl champions will of course be…the Patriots!