Bottom of the 9th - Prayer
by Keith Wahl
(This week's Bottom of the Ninth is the sixth in a series walking readers through basics of the Christian faith integrated in the game of baseball through Francis Chan's BASIC video series - CLICK the image above to watch the episode)
Francis Chan's discussion of "Prayer" in this edition of his BASIC series is truly eye-opening, especially for someone who is seeking how to pray. And, Lord knows baseball players are inclined to pray to anything in times of desperation as this scene pictured from Bull Durham outlined¦
In Matthew 6 and in Luke 11, Jesus teaches us how to pray. The interpretation of these verses have become common in today's church as "The Lord's Prayer." Most people who have been to church can recite it. However, as Chan notes, few people take the time to understand the words presented within the prayer.
When we are taught to pray, most of the time the teaching begins with teaching us to pray for ourselves or our family. Most of the time it teaches us to pray alone. But, do you notice the number of time "our," "us," and "we" are used throughout The Lord's Prayer?
Give us this day
our daily bread and
As we forgive whose who
Trespass against us
and lead us
not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...
Wait a minute. Are we praying as a team of people? Are we so in tune with God collectively that we would pray together? Or do we pray for ourselves first, foremost, and only in a self-centered manner?
"Lord, please give me the strength to win this game." "Lord, please let me make the team this year." "Lord, please give me a college scholarship to a school that will go to the College World Series."
I've always wondered about Tim Tebow in this regard. I'm certainly not calling him out, just wondering.
Here's a guy who gained the highest platform available to an athlete to proclaim the name of Christ. When he won the Heisman, when he won an NCAA national championship, when he led the Broncos to that improbable playoff win, he shouted praise and glory to the name of Jesus Christ. But, when he was told he'd need to play another position to stay in the NFL, he gave it up because he's a quarterback in his mind. While I appreciate the conviction, it saddens me that we don't see Tebow jerseys around NFL stadiums anymore because he wouldn't put away his personal dreams of being a quarterback. I'm certain that he is spreading the good news elsewhere, but my heart and ministry exist in athletics and I miss having him to point to as an example.
When we go to God, let's seek to live out the words of Ecclesiastes 5:1-3:
Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.
Let us listen. Let us be accountable to others and walk in unity so we are not hasty or impulsive. Let our words be few when praying. But, above all things, let us pray together in unity so we might see an undeniable supernatural response that could only be God's will being exercised on earth as it is in heaven.