Title: Intercession for God’s Athletes
Theme: Praying for Your Local Football Team
Series: Living in the Aroma of Prayer
Foundational Prayer Scriptures
Several years ago the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ led me to put together prayer guides for the local church service, the United States of America, and for our children and grandchildren. While prayerfully studying the Word of God the Holy Spirit led me to many passages of Scripture. The first three were: 1.) Ephesians 6:18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” 2.) Jude 1:20, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” 3.) Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
These three Scriptures were key truths for me in two very tragic times in my walk with the Lord. My faith in prayer was not challenged when my wife, Bonnie was diagnosed with brain cancer (astrocytoma). My faith thus far has not been shaken as I see my boys struggle against the flesh, the temptations of this world and the lies of Satan. My faith in prayer has been shattered on two different occasions, both when spiritual leadership suffered the consequences of failing to seeking the whole counsel of God’s Word.
The great news is during both occasions the Lord restored my intimacy with Him in prayer. The Holy Spirit used the sword of the Spirit, the written Word of God (Ephesians 6:17) to reestablish my faith in Him.
I would propose to you that it is possible to pray fervently in the flesh and never get through to God. (The Bible Expository Commentary) It is also possible to pray according to God’s will by the leading of the Holy Spirit and enjoy the powerful ever-loving intervention of God in every part of our lives.
What is the Biblical formula that we can surrender to that will enable us to come to God the Father under the blood of His Son Jesus Christ and enable us to be led of the Holy Spirit? There is no greater peace than knowing that what you have prayed for is in agreement with God’s will for you and everything you have interceded for.
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions
According to Colossians 4:2, Christians are to “devote [themselves] to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” In writing about putting on the full armor of God the Apostle Paul wrote, “…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…” (Ephesians 6:18)
“…On all occasions with all kinds of prayer…” indicates to us the thoroughness and intensity Christians should express as they intercede for others. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Matthew Henry Commentary) True prayer is spiritual. It is not true prayer unless the Holy Spirit has filled the spiritual heart and mind with heavenward longings and aspirations, changing our prayers from selfish fleshly desires to petitions that agree with God’s Word. (The Pulpit Commentary; John Wesley Notes) Ordinary habitual prayer intercessors realize the presence of the Lord, enjoy God’s grace and have Holy Spirit guidance. Their prayers are guided by the written Word. (Ephesians 6:17)
For twenty plus years I have enjoyed the pleasure of praying for ministry and creating prayer guides that enable the Body of Christ to grasp the heart of God.
In the falls of 2008-2010 the Lord allowed me to enjoy a sweet fellowship with Him in prayer through intercession for the Norton Blue Jay Football Team. Here are just a few testimonies, things I saw the Lord do as I prayed for the Norton Blue Jays and their coaches (praying from 4:00 to 6:00 a.m. five days weekly for the entire football season).
One: Sitting along the sideline visiting with dads you hear a lot of things that are not worth the hearing. The words of Joe Gibbs come to my mind, “There are people who think they know football, sadly they know very little about football.” There are many things that coaches must face. They must decide which play to call, which players to use and when. They must communicate effectively with fans and parents, and they carry the responsibility of whether or not the team has a winning season. The Holy Spirit led me to James 1:5-8, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
It was wonderful to see the coaches make the needed changes on the team, choose successful plays and work with the parents of the players. The Norton Blue Jays went to the final four in the state playoffs (Sub-state Runner Up). Norton fans have not enjoyed that for twenty years.
Two: One time we were traveling to Saint Francis, Kansas, the wind was blowing hard with 50 mph gusts. The Holy Spirit led me to Mark 4:41, “Even the wind and the waves obey Him!" I prayed and asked the Lord to still the winds when the game started. Just before the Norton Blue Jays stepped out on the field, the wind started to subside. By the time the game started the flag was hanging straight down and the wind had stilled.
Three: It was in the Saint Francis game my son Caleb received a serious knee injury. I am convinced our adversary afflicted Caleb because of the wonderful times in prayer I was having with my Father who is in heaven. The Holy Spirit brought to my mind, John 14:12-14, “This is the truth, I tell you—he that believes on Me will do the works that I do, and he will do greater works than these, because I go to my Father. And I will do whatever you shall ask in My name, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” My prayer was that through the whole season, the Lord would open up doors of opportunity to share with Caleb how intercession was made for him, the coaches and the team. The Lord answered yes to that prayer.
Lastly, I prayed that the Lord would bless and use key members on the varsity team. I thought of Psalm 103:1-2, 5, “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits — …[He] who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”
I saw the Lord grow them in their talents and give them tremendous opportunities to excel. Many of the varsity team players received high honors at the end of the season.
Your Football Team
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Praise: “Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:3-5) Thank God for every one involved with your team including coaches and players, the school system or franchise, the media and the fans and for the opportunity the team has to play football.
“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19) Pray that God would send His Holy Spirit into the spiritual hearts to reveal Christ to everyone connected to the team. Pray that they be truly born again and live in the fullness and the abundant life promised in Christ.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:5-8) Ask the Lord to give wisdom to all those in authority over the team. Pray that the coaches make decisions that are good for the whole team. Pray for their decisions no only during the game, but in everything that affects the team including practice, plays, media releases, players and fans
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) Pray that each player will use his conditioning and playing time, his talents and his lifestyle in a way that is good for all the team members. Pray that players, coaches, and fans will avoid everything that feeds only self-interest, do nothing out of selfish ambition and consider others better than themselves.
“If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:10) Pray that Christian football coaches and players will see the moral failures of non-Christians as opportunities to point the broken hearted to Christ and the ways of God.
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.” (Proverbs 1:10) “Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." (1 Corinthians 15:33) Pray that the players who have good character not be influenced by those who have wrong motives and live in ways that are sinful or harmful in any way.
“Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1) Pray that the team members will not become in bondage to drugs, alcohol and other addictions that would cause them harm or keep them from proper conditioning, playing or following rules and regulations laid before them by those who have authority over them.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) Pray that the Christian players will grow in their trials and show faith in God. Pray that they persevere and allow the Lord to mature them and complete His work in and through them. May their faith cause other players to look to Christ as they face similar trials.
“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2) Pray that the players will understand that the positions they play are given out of trust. Pray that they understand that they are expected to prove faithful in conditioning, preparation and execution of their positions.
The call to pray is from God’s Word and we are given a sure promise, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b) Have assurance that the Lord God has heard and will answer your prayers.