On Sunday 111.5 million of us gathered together to witness miracles. We partook of the game day snacks. Some even tithed $2000 and made the pilgrimage to be there in person.
And 33 percent of football fans prayed to God to help their team win, according to a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute.
This bothers me.
The thing is, I completely understand this. I regularly pray for trivial things. Traffic, an overloaded schedule, public speaking – they’re high stress situations, and I often have a knee jerk reaction to pray. It’s a comfort thing, and I think there are good intentions behind finding comfort in prayer.
But it’s dangerous as well because I think our prayers reveal our priorities. I think what bothers me most about this statistic about prayer is what it says about our priorities.
My history teaches once said: You can tell what a society cares about most by looking at what its biggest, most elaborate buildings are. Our stadiums make a statement. One of NASA’s satellites captured a photo of the clearly visible MetLife Stadium the Super Bowl was played in. Our priorities are clear even from space.
Follow the money – I’d say that’s a pretty accurate cliche and is another reliable way to reveal society’s values.
At first, I empathized immensely with the Broncos and the embarrassment they must have been feeling. I mean, just the look of utter defeat on Peyton Manning’s face was heart-breaking. But then I remembered how much money they were probably still getting. A $46,000 bonus for loosing to be exact. That was enough to dry up my pity. Winning is significantly more profitable though, and the Seahawks received a bonus of $92,000.
Now, I don’ think the Super Bowl is bad. (Even though the painful 43-8 blowout makes that harder to say.) And I’m not trying to make anyone feel overly self-conscious or inhibited about how they pray – I think that’s also dangerous – but I think prayer gives us a beautiful and valuable opportunity to cultivate our priorities. I don’t think football should make our top ten list, or even our top fifty. Society has made it clear what it values, and we should make a conscious effort to push against that.
I prefer to think God is more of a soccer fan, anyways.