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"Football is not a matter of life and death, it is more important than that."

Bill Shankly, Liverpool Football manager

Prayer for football

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

It has been a strange week in the UK. Last Saturday (18 March 2012) a professional footballer suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup tie, the incident being seen by millions on live TV. The player seems to be making a full recovery.

The response from the nation has been astonishing. A twitter theme #prayfor… has had hundreds expressing support and urging everyone to pray.

The Football Association set the tone with its statement: "Our thoughts and prayers are with …. and his family right now." Sheffield United assured everyone that “The thoughts and prayers of all” at the club were with him.

The Daily Star Sunday edition summed it up “Horror. Football prays for …”.

One professional player tweeted: “ Great to hear that … is in stable condition. Our prayers must have been heard”. Another: “This is now a day when football across the world comes together to pray for …. ”.

A player who played in the game in question tweeted: “Doesn't matter who you support, doesn't matter if you aren't religious. Pray for …”

How do we react to all this? At one level, it is great that people are praying. Yet the question needs to be asked, what does it actually mean to tweet “#prayfor…”? It is almost as if the momentum of enough people using the word prayer, releases a good vibe. The idea that people without any personal faith should pray is an intriguing one. To whom do they pray?

The Bible reveals a God who cares about us and who invites us to have a relationship with him. He is a God who hears and answers prayers. Hebrews reminds us, that there are certain prerequisites of prayer.

1 You need to know who you are praying to;
2 You need to believe that he exists;
3 You need to have faith in him;
4 You need to believe that he is able and willing to intervene.

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