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From Pastor Clay 

   When I coached Little League, I helped kids bat, field, cheer, laugh, and even pray! Some of the kids started their batting position with their toes facing the pitcher, forcing them to swing a full circle to get to the ball. Some tried to pick up grounders without turning their mitt the correct directions. I and the other coaches worked to correct these mistakes. The children also prayed to win before every game! This was one of the corrections I was most concerned about.


     The problem with praying for winning is that we also pray for someone else to lose. How does asking someone else to lose fit with the teachings of our scripture? To love your neighbor as yourself? Do you pray to lose yourself? No, you do not! If you cannot pray the same prayer for the people in the neighborly dugout, then it is not a Christ-like prayer. So, we prayed for fun, safety, laughter, and ended with the Lord’s Prayer before every game, instead of praying to win.


     This lesson showed up when I was recently re-reading a novel about a group of Americans traveling on a cruise to Europe and the Holy Land in the 19th century. During this trip, one of the captains become confused by the regular prayers of the shipmates during the evening prayer.

“There they are, down there every night at eight bells, praying for fair winds—when they know as well as I do that this is the only ship going east this time of the year, but there's a thousand coming west—what's a fair wind for us is a head wind to them—the Almighty's blowing a fair wind for a thousand vessels, and this tribe wants him to turn it clear around so as to accommodate one—and she a steamship at that! It ain't good sense, it ain't good reason, it ain't good Christianity, it ain't common human charity. Avast with such nonsense!” (From Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad.)

     When we pray, do we pray with the awareness of loving others? Seemingly innocent prayers like a wind in our sails or winning a Little League game may show something about the heart and our self-centered sinful  disposition. May we have the courage to pray to have the heart of Jesus and pray for others more than we pray for ourselves.