Wednesday, 18 June 2014

World Cup Prayers

Image courtesy of The FA

It was a frustrating start to England's World Cup campaign, despite an encouraging performance, loosing to Italy. However, Daniel Sturridge managed to get on the score sheet and after doing so, clearly offered the goal up in prayer to God.

It is not the first time that Sturridge has mentioned his faith. In an interview in May 2013, he said: "I've kept praying every game – which I always do. God showed me how I need to be strong mentally. Being strong mentally is the one thing that can separate you from anyone else. When I worked with Didier Drogba at Chelsea, the one strength he had above everybody was his mental strength. I learned a lot from working with him about what it takes to be a top player. Hopefully I'll become one." (see more <here>)

[Drogba has been featured in a previous blog post about prayer <here>]

When he first broke in to the England team in October 2013 he said, "At the moment, things are going well and I've been blessed by god to have this sort of form and my faith in god has got me to where I am today" (see more <here>)

It's not the only prayer that has featured so far at the World Cup. When Algeria scored against Belgium in their opening game, they celebrated with this:

Image courtesy of Yahoo

Sofiane Feghouli and several teammates ran to the corner flag and celebrated by kneeling down together. It was rather subdued compared with some of the general craziness of other teams' goal celebrations. However the Sujud (a prayer position in which the forehead, nose, hands, knees and toes all touch the ground) has become a customary goal celebration for Muslim players including Chelsea's Demba Ba.

Aside from the players praying, there is also a encouragement for fans to get praying too. The Bible Society are distributing free World Cup edition Bibles (see <here>), papers like the Catholic Herald have written articles reminding Christians to learn from the World Cup (see <here>) and CAFOD have used the opportunity to educate young people about some of the global issues connected to Brazil including poverty and fair trade putting their prayer into action (see <here>).

Thankfully Pope Francis has promised to not pray for his homeland in Argentina, see <here>. However Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera has asked Mexico to pray to their team! <here>

The Church of England have even gone as far as to release five prayers for the World Cup:

Prayer 1 - A Prayer for the World Cup

Lord of all the nations, who played the cosmos into being, guide, guard and protect all who work or play in the World Cup.
May all find in this competition a source of celebration, an experience of common humanity and a growing attitude of generous sportsmanship to others.

Prayer 2 - A Prayer for Brazil

God of the nations, who has always called his people to be a blessing for the world, bless all who take part in the World Cup.
Smile on Brazil in her hosting,
on the nations represented in competition and on those who travel to join in the party.

Prayer 3 - A prayer for those simply not interested

Lord, as all around are gripped with World Cup fever, bless us with understanding, strengthen us with patience and grant us the gift of sympathy if needed.

Prayer 4 - Prayer for the England Football team

"Oh God..."

Prayer 5 - Prayer for the England Football team

"God, who played the cosmos into being, please help England rediscover their legs, their eyes and their hunger: that they might run more clearly, pass more nearly and enjoy the game more dearly. Amen."

(Based on The Prayer commemorating Richard, Bishop of Chichester in 1253 and used by the Church of England on 16 June each year)

See press release <here>

Do you think the World Cup is a good place to pray? Do you think the footballers do provide good Christian role models? Is it right that Christian organisations use this opportunity? Will you be praying for England?!

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