When You Pray For Tebow to Throw TD’s, The Terrorists … Err, The Demons Win

When You Pray For Tebow to Throw TD’s, The Terrorists … Err, The Demons Win

Dramatic title, I know. I’m hoping this post adds some perspective to my brothers and sisters in the Lord who may be at risk of over-dosing on Tebow.

A couple things to get clarify first. I am a football fan, I like Tim Tebow, I play fantasy sports. I’m not rooting for the demons. I even like prayer and place a high importance on it.

I do believe God cares about us .. more than we can imagine. I don’t believe God is too busy for any of our prayers. I do believe that we are to be careful and intentional for what we pray for.

But I think it’s ridiculous that we pray for the outcome of a game (or parking spaces or that we would get desired tickets to movies or sporting event or not get speeding tickets. Yes these are real examples). Concerning professional athletes, we should pray for the safety of the players, pray for the complexities of their lives, pray that they wouldn’t fall prey to the many things that entangle professional athletes but let’s not bother God for praying for TD’s and comeback wins.

More importantly, we need to pray for the things that we should be praying for, like for those in need, for those near to us, for our enemies, for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. While I don’t actually think there is a scoreboard revealing the results of angels and demons, I do think when we consume ourselves with the trivialities of life, we lose focus on what’s truly essential in life.

It’s necessary that Christians don’t use professional sports as “escapism” (or use anything else for that matter including media, hobbies and even religious activities can be “escapist”). Sports, even watching, are intended to recreational, it’s a form of entertainment, it’s a wonderful conversation piece, it’s even inspiring at times but let’s be honest, it’s still trivial in the grand scheme of things.

It’s also important that Christians don’t objectify Tebow and make him another piece in the culture war. I made this argument previously in the Tebow-Romney comparison. Are people attacking Tebow because he is a professing Christian – yes, undoubtedly. Is this unfair? Yes of course. How should Christians respond? For one, not by propping him up as an icon of some sort.  And the other way we should respond is with love.

I’ve shared the observation that Tebow seems to be choosing his words with a bit more wisdom these days. And it’s working for him.   He even said after this week’s game that God doesn’t really care about the outcome of football games.  (Honestly, I was relieved to hear him say that and I have a greater respect for him). Major media sources have written about the harsh media treatment he regularly receives. Such supportive sources have included The Wall Street Journal Online post, this multi-faceted post from The Week, and even Bob Costa’s sentiments during the halftime show this past Sunday night’s game between the Giants and the Cowboys (Go G-Men!).  He’s also getting a little love from his brotherly “critics” like in this Relevant Magazine online post by Kent Woodyard.

How does one explain the number of comebacks in “Tebow Time”?  Take your pick – bad defense, playing well under pressure, any-given Sunday madness, who knows??  This is part of the fun of sports. But please, let’s not waste our words that this is divine intervention as if God is sending angels to improve ball accuracy and squirting Marion Barber’s hands to force him to fumble. Rather, let us enjoy the game, let us converse graciously with one another and let us pray to God for worthy things.


  1. I say pray for the brother because he is and will be continued to be attacked because of his unabashed faith in God but also pray that he doesn’t fall into the temptations of all this attention. I would love to see him continue win but that’s not my main concern. I want him to be able to “stand fast” against all the things that will come at him and love people with the love that God wants us to show others. It aint about TD’s but its about a testimony.

  2. Eric! Hey pal thanks for your words. I agree with that and hopefully that would help us to not objectify him. I would love to see him succeed on the field and off the field and so forth but my real concern is that Christians not use him as a piece in the culture war. So in my mind, it’s not just about his testimony, it’s also about our collective testimony (as a community of believers).

  3. God helped out Tim Tebow so much that Tim led his team down the field for his kicker to attempt a…59 yard field goal! The kicker deserves as much credit here as Tebow. So, Prater, God is on your side.

    Then, God helped out Tim Tebow so much that Satan pushed Marion Barber OUT OF BOUNDS with 1:49 left in the 4th quarter and then made him fumble in OT. Marion Barber, (the) Satan is after you. :)

  4. Steve Davis says:

    So, how small is too small to ask God for help with? I always figured every need I have is puny on His scale, so when I lived in Bucks and had to drive down to Philly for a hospital visit, I always prayed for a parking space. He didn’t seem to get too upset about it. Even got me in and out once when I only remembered to bring 75 cents. I gave Him credit for a space showing up that already had half an hour paid for.

  5. Steve, since I know that you can respond with better sarcasm, not only is it puny on His scale, it’s also on our scale. I don’t see coming up with .75 cents or comeback wins as a miracle of deliverance. (But I do think it’s great that we thank God in all things. I just don’t think that the mountains Jesus describes to be moved from here to there are Mazda Miatas on Chestnut Street)

    How small is too small? I think the issue is that we have (me included) do not ask God for the big things enough so we end up praying for things like parking spaces, traffic, short waits at restaurants and things that amount to temporary relief or annoyances.

    Can’t find a parking space, can’t find some change – most of us are not going to question our faith. On the other hand, a loved one going through a particular set of treatments, that’s another story. The post is concerned with praying more for the things of the latter than of the former.

  6. These are interesting thoughts, but I do wonder where the line is supposed to be drawn. When I ask God to help me do my job well (delivering lectures, reading papers, etc.) and then do my well it seems perfectly appropriate to give God thanks for that. It’s true that being a professor has few occupational hazards (though returning exams to students can get pretty close!), but even if that were not the cases it would be odd to ask people to only pray for my safety and not for me to do well. Should I tell people I don’t know to not pray for me to do well in my job because there are more important things out there? (I assume not.)

    Why isn’t all this the same for Tim Tebow’s job?

  7. Thanks for reading Paul, you know I appreciate you.

    I hear what you’re saying. I don’t have a problem with Tebow bowing down and thanking God if that’s what he wants to do but just to contextualize a little here: I preached the other week at our evening service, and after I gave the benediction, some were kind to clap. I didn’t drop to my knee and point to the heavens. That night, I did thank God for helping me in the many ways I felt He did and I asked Him to keep my heart near His (among other things)

    I would also like to think that after a long semester, after you’ve given your closing thoughts, you likely don’t start Tebowing either but you likely thank God for helping you in the many ways He does.

    Among my problems with the Tebow thing is that it’s getting a bit ridiculous with some using these comeback wins as a form of apologetics or the dude that put “Jesus” on the back of his #15 Broncos jersey. God is still great even if Tebow does not succeed in the NFL. So when his pastor in CO states the exact opposite (Tebow is successful because God is with him type of stuff), I think one, that’s bad theology and two, sets up Tebow and the faith for failure.

    My other problem is that I don’t want Tebow to be placed on top of some platform in the culture war. Let the dude play but let’s not make his performance a spiritual or cultural issue. Hope that clarifies a little.

  8. The issue that is developing here, which Tim Tebow has helped bring to surface, is really a HUGE problem/issue in practical theology: why pray?

    “Orthodox” theology, whether Calvinist or Armenian, I argue, is actually made impotent by this atheist meme flow chart:


    By “Orthodox” i mean a theology that maintains both the omniscience (in a classical sense of also knowing the future) and omnipotence. Open theology and open theism can make some in roads here, by modifying God’s omniscience to mean present and past, perserving the future as possibility due to things like quantum indeterminacy and freedom of the will. There are some great things to read by Greg Boyd and Clark Pinnock in this area dealing with spiritual war fare and the role of prayer as actually having an impact in the spiritual world. It is not that God is not all powerful, but that in order to preserve our freedom, God does not unilaterally assert his will over humans or demonic forces. That’s one way to go, thought I think it is forced to do too many gymnastics and dance moves to preserve God’s omnipotence.

    We now don’t have to take up the typical liberal answer (or Reformed) that prayer simply changes our hearts. That may happen, but to say that’s the only reason to pray is less than inspiring. Now I’ll be a little dogmatic. The ONLY way to explain prayer is to take up a Process perspective. God is not omnipotent in a forceful, coercive sense. In addition, process theologians hold to panenetheism, the belief that God is IN all things. God is the creative force of the universe, in and working in all things to bring about beauty, harmony, and creative transformation. With this in mind, we can think of prayer as a way of tapping into the divine energy that binds the universe together (which isnt to reduce God to an “energy”). Bare with me! The last aspect of a process metaphysic to make clear is that reality is composed of events, and every event has an “aim” composed of three factors: 1.) Gods’ will 2.) human freedom 3.) past events. This means that some things simply are not possible based upon the limits of reality, the building blocks or raw material in place. Among the possibilities that are open, our will, or action, can still be combined with God’s intention for the moment to create some miraculous, improbable, and wonderful outcomes.

    Why all of the theory? Well this avoids the flow chart in significant ways that other theologies simply cannot. The flow chart assumes that God’s omnipotence guarantees God’s desired outcome. From a Process persepctive, we can say that though something may be God’s will, sometimes it is either a.) not possible or b.) God doesn’t have the partners to help accomplish the desired outcome relationally – which is the only way God operates. So why does God seemingly answer prayers for parking spaces and not for starving children? It’s not as simple as saying God doesnt care about one or the other, this way we can affirm that God cares about EVERYTHING AND we don’t have to face the fact that God simply does not act in certain, vital, situations.

    Back to Tebow. Does God work in football games? Maybe. Probably not high on the priority list, but it’s not impossible. The fear of people affirming that God would work in a football game is that they would have to explain why God then doesnt stop evil. The symptom is a desrie to believe God is all powerful. We can stop thinking that. Looking around at the world should confirm that hypothesis. But we can still affirm God’s goodness and our need to pray.

    Process thought is the ONLY way to think about the problem of evil productively, and thus how we can think about prayer in relation to healing the world.

  9. How sad that we are still seeing an effort to find more “pieces in the culture war.” Yuck.

  10. Bo, every time you comment about Process Theology, I think to myself, “I really need to get on this.” You’re good for me (well, at least for now I think you are :)
    It’s been a long day, I’m going to re-read your comment and give it some thought. Peace to you.

  11. @Jason, Brother, I’ve been meaning to call you forever now. Hoeing all is well with you and the fan.

    Re. your comment – it is sad that we use our brothers and sisters in this way. Not only is it not helpful in society, it’s damaging to the church. Ironically, I think I contribute to it even by blogging against it.

    Anyway, thanks for reading. Catch you soon.

  12. Eh I’m not entirely happy with my explanation here, I’ll find you a better resource haha. Cheers.

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