A Prayerful Look at Football

One woman learns football can be a powerful illustration of effective prayer.

Posted in , Jan 27, 2014

A quarterback catches a football

Nothing about football has ever interested me. I have always thought of it as an irritating drone on television. Never understanding what could be of interest to so many people, mostly men, I began to turn a deaf ear when my Bible study leader said, “Now you ladies may not appreciate this, but I am going to use football as an illustration for effective prayer.”

What could be the connection between prayer and football? I half-heartedly wondered, yet I still focused on Pastor Noel Campbell, for he had won my respect long ago with his wisdom and insight.

He continued, “Imagine you’re the quarterback on a team. The ball is snapped to you. You fall back. You face players from the other team who look like giants, and they’re all out to stop you from advancing the ball. You get the ball and throw it. The minute you throw the ball, the ‘giants’ stop coming after you. Where did you throw the ball? You threw it to the receiver.”

Yes, I can understand this, I think. Is that all there is to football?

Pastor Noel continued, “Now visualize yourself as having a need or a problem you can’t solve. You, like the quarterback, have just caught the ‘ball.’ Everything comes against you: worry, anxiety, concern and loss of sleep. It is as if the ‘giants’ are charging you.

What can you do?  Begin to pray, telling God your concern. By doing this, you have just thrown the ‘ball’ to the receiver or should I say, God. He is the receiver of your prayer. Like the quarterback who has just thrown the ball, you are no longer responsible for the outcome. God takes full responsibility for what is to happen next.”

Hey, I really can understand this illustration, I thought.

Pastor Noel continued, “On a football team, the footballs are mostly thrown to one or two receivers. Why do some receivers get more passes thrown to them than others? It is because they have a strong relationship with the quarterback. The quarterback trusts the receiver to catch it; so too with prayer."

He went on, "Depending on how much we trust God, we pray more and we know God has heard us. We can relax in the understanding He will follow through and take care of our needs. We do not have to be affected by the ‘giants’ of worry, anxiety or concern any longer. The answer to our prayer is in the hands of the receiver, the One we can trust to know what to do next.”

Wow, I thought, football is not so bad after all! In fact, it even makes sense.

Understanding that prayer is the outcome of a vital relationship with God and depends on complete trust, a new freedom swept over me. I felt I could pray and let go. My request was now in the hands of God who took it from me and would run with it. I would have to do nothing else.

Laughing to myself as I left the Bible study, I began to think over what I had just heard. Who would have thought that I could understand a profound truth so clearly by an illustration of football, something I thought to be so meaningless?

Ironically, football has now become a part of my life. When I pray, I think of myself as Linda, the quarterback, raring back to throw my prayer.

Recently, I have had to play serious football. Six months ago I was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery. At the time of the diagnosis suspicious cells not yet diagnosed as cancer were also discovered, but surgery was not done where they were located. The concern of future cancer was still a possibility.

I waited six months until it was time for another test. I caught the snap. “Giants” loomed close by. It was time to rear back and throw with all my might to the receiver. I prayed. When worry set in, I reminded myself that God had caught my prayer, and there was nothing more I could do. I relaxed. I waited.

The test results came back negative. No more cancer! Wow, I thought. I wonder if that means there was a touchdown. I will have to ask Pastor Noel about that!

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