metatarsals and muambas

20 03 2012

Picture from BBC News

God watches football and weeps. All that energy in the stands as men set an example to the church in the way they passionately lament and rage and love and endure and enjoy and get their feelings out there in words that might not perhaps make it in the Psalms… 

Football is generally determined by the direction the stands face. Inwards. The care and the passion and the prayers are all focused inwards. Except sometimes. Sometimes something happens that draws some of that passion and energy and turns it outwards. Suddenly the yelling and the rage and the lament is not directed at the sponsored pigs bladder or the teenage superhero who will always disappoint but at the nameless, faceless entity called… God.

Remember the metatarsals? I think it was the 2006 World Cup when The Sun urged us to pray for Beckham’s foot. A frivolous prayer. And now we are urged to pray for Fabrice Muamba. Suddenly people who never give a thought to praying anything beyond wining the FA Cup are not frightened to pray. Out loud. To wear t-shirts and leave flowers.

What does God do with these prayers?  I think he welcomes them. He’s not like some tardy old wealthy uncle who gets upset when people only talk to him because they want to borrow money. Or a miracle. He welcomes them. 

Does that mean he answers them? Erm… if you mean does he say Yes and make Fabrice Muamba better? Erm… if only prayer was like a magical incantation, a formula. Maybe God asks a question back. That’s the thing with prayer, it’s a conversation not a monologue. It’s Facebook Chat not a status update. Maybe God says, thank you for your prayer; now tell me about yourself and how you are going respond whether or not your prayer is ‘answered’. If you want me to intervene in his life, can I intervene in yours?  

Image from BBC Sport

Maybe God hears these prayers and weeps. Not because he doesn’t want to hear them – he does – but because he wishes he heard more. And maybe because he wishes the energy that is devoted to praying for single, well-known individuals could be devoted to praying for communities or even countries. Like the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, from where Fabrice Muamba fled as a refugee aged 11. Or maybe these prayers acted as a catalyst for action against heart disease and the millions of football fans with terrible diets saw a glimpse of what can happen to even healthy people and changed their ways. 

Prayer has strings attached. Prayer comes with our own responsibilities. May we be people who begin to help the football stands face outwards, to be people who pray and act for individuals and communities and countries. And may we be people who welcome the fact that our God is suddenly hearing a whole load more prayers than he used and that he does not turn them away.

As we pray that, we also pray for Fabrice Muamba, his family, friends and colleagues. And for the victims of the shootings in France… the bus crash in Belgium… the street homeless in London…  the lonely old lady next door…

May our actions be prayers that rise like incense. 

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6 responses

20 03 2012
Jez

Really amazing and thought provoking blog thank you

20 03 2012
Karen

Excellent post Kevin. Really powerful. Thank you.

20 03 2012
winchmorehillshot

Thanks Kevin, good stuff as usual.

20 03 2012
fran

May we never give up on prayer because we think it doesn’t work. Pray is never about success or failure.

20 03 2012
edgsoni

I’m reminded of a Beth Nielsen Chapman song: ‘Prayers Of An Atheist’.

I believe she wrote it in response to something that happened when her husband was dying which spoke deeply to them both. His best friend, who didn’t believe in God, promised to pray for him faithfully during his illness. Which, when you think about it, is rather an amazing act of faith.

There is a verse which goes something like:-

The prayers of an atheist
Sent from the emptiness
Even they
Find the way
Back home.

Check it out Kevin’s people!

20 03 2012
c2drl

Well said.

Isn’t it interesting that at a time where there is so much militant, angry, ill informed secularism still we get lots of people who usually don’t seem to ‘do God’ saying, please pray. People can deny the logic of there being a God, they can argue as rudely and agressively as Mr Dawkins does, but they cannot deny that when the chips are down the majority want there to be a God who works miracles and does good.

Why? Perhaps because when confronted with events like this we are suddenly also confronted by the fact that actually man canot save himself and isn’t making a good job of running the world without God, and deep within us we have a spirit that seeks God. What a shame that events like people being hungry or cold or homeless or killed by war or terrorists or road accidents don’t have the same effect on the masses. Because, rest assured prayer does work. Not because we can dictate a result to God, we can’t. Not because we always get what we want, we don’t. But because in some supernatural way that really annoys the secularists, something happens and the world becomes a better place and things do change.

I can’t explain it and I haven’t yet met anybody who can. Maybe we should set up a huge and expensive experiment to isolate the God particle in prayer! Better still let us pray, today, tomorrow and all the time. I can’t think of anything better to do, really I can’t. And if it bothers you that people who don’t understand what prayer is and don’t go to Church are praying without understanding (just like us), pray for Fabrice anyway and then pray for these people. Who knows what might happen.

Dear Father God, please bless Fabrice and his family and help them in this time of great need, bring him healing, and please also bless all those who, through this terrible event have sensed a need within themselves, something they can’t explain, and help them to find the real joy of knowing you as somebody they can talk to and have a relationship with. Amen

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