Saturday night God heard the heartfelt prayers of millions of believers of Red Sox Nation. Sox were down 3-2 against the Rays. The ten game winning streak was on the line. What to do? We worked our prayer beads as Dustin Pedroia (bless him) approached the plate with bases loaded. Candles were lit in many a Red Sox home. The result? A Grand Slam. Sox win!
Some of us think this is how God works. If we believe hard enough and pray fervently enough our prayers will be answered. I know people who swear by their ability to find parking spots in downtown Boston. Pray with sincerity and God will provide. Why not add a prayer that the Sox win the Pennant?
Just when I may me lulled into thinking that God’s answers are so convenient, I think of a woman I’ll call Freda. I met Freda 30 years ago. She was in her late twenties and had ALS. ALS was ravaging her body. As her disease progressed she asked me as the new pastor in town to stop by and pray for her healing. She wanted to be rid of her disease, to have a full life. What to do?
I do believe that God enters into our lives. There have been profound moments in my own life and in moments I’m invited to share in (births, baptisms, marriages, heartache and death). Moments when I’ve sensed to the core of my being that great mystery we call God/Spirit was in our midst…offering love and hope.
Can I prove this? No. Do I believe this? Yes.
But I don’t believe God is a holy ATM machine. Sometimes I wish God was.
I prayed for Freda’s healing. I prayed too that our God of love would grace her with strength and peace.
Was Freda healed of her ALS? No. Her disease progressed and a year later she died at age 29.
Was God with Freda? I believe so, walking with her in this life and into the next.
Which brings me back to our topic of the day. Was God’s grace shining upon Dustin when he hit that Grand Slam? Probably not. But is there a place for prayer in sports (as in life)? Sure.
My experience with prayer is that it changes me. Prayer has a way of reminding me that I’m not in charge, I’m not alone, not forgotten. Prayer reminds me as a great theologian said ‘God’s love is always present simply waiting to be found’.
Prayer reminds me that I have value because I’m a child of God. Whether I hit a Grand Slam or strike out with the bases loaded (Sandy Leon). God’s love is infinite while fans love is fleeting.
Prayer isn’t so much about getting God’s attention as getting our own. Reminding us about what is really important.
In the meantime the Sox will play for the Pennant (and the Yankees won’t). All I can say is, ‘Amen’ and ‘Go Sox’!