Prayer when a player goes down

In the face of accident or injury – on the playing field or otherwise – we can turn to God as a reliable help.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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My family is full of devout sports fans. Football, basketball, soccer, hockey, track, volleyball, rowing, whatever – we love it all. We’re drawn to the spirit of competition and the grit we see when an underdog wins, an athlete seems to defy the odds, or a great play turns a ho-hum matchup into a real contest.

However, injuries – some of them violent and serious – can seem to be a regular part of sporting events. I’ve found that prayer is a valuable response in such situations.

When I was growing up, if an athlete went down injured, my mom would encourage us to pray. I’d learned in the Christian Science Sunday School that everyone – including athletes – is a child of God, Spirit, and therefore expresses spiritual qualities such as grace and strength. Our prayers would affirm that these qualities came directly from the divine source of unlimited power and goodness – God. This meant that we’re all divinely empowered to express such qualities – without interruption. And we were encouraged by the many instances we witnessed of players getting up and rejoining the game quickly.

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this news organization, puts it simply: “Whatever is governed by God, is never for an instant deprived of the light and might of intelligence and Life” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 215). This tells us that the omnipotent God, Life, is always present and active, and can’t leave any of us, even for a split second.

While the Apostle Paul, a follower of Jesus, may not have been an athlete, he did use running and racing as metaphors for his spiritual messages. And the Bible’s book of Acts tells us of a time when Paul found himself in an arena of sorts, and an audience member “went down,” so to speak (see Acts 20:7-12).

It was during one of his missionary visits. Paul “continued his speech until midnight,” and Eutychus, a young man in the audience, had maybe had a long day too. He fell asleep and tumbled out of a third-story window. The Bible tells us he was “taken up dead.”

The Bible doesn’t say, but it’s not hard to imagine it might have been a frightening, chaotic environment. But Paul remains calm and settles the scene. He embraces Eutychus and says something remarkable: “Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.” And indeed, the audience finds that Eutychus is alive.

The account ends with the audience’s response to this turn of events: They “were not a little comforted” – or, as the New Living Translation puts it, “everyone was greatly relieved.” Haven’t we all felt similarly comforted when someone gets up and returns to the playing field, whether literally or figuratively!

This account illustrates our true, permanent status as loved, safe, intact, never fallen. God’s spiritual offspring can never not express the life and love of our divine source, even for an instant. This spiritual reality is a powerful foundation for prayer that heals.

I experienced this when my daughter fell off a horse in a crowded warm-up ring before a horse show. The horse had stumbled hard, and my daughter flew off, landing hard headfirst.

I prayed instantly to know that the qualities of God she was expressing as a rider couldn’t be stopped or stalled. It came to me in that split second that although I couldn’t physically get to my daughter immediately, I could trust that her divine Mother, God, was governing and keeping her safe. I felt calm and panic-free.

In the next instant, she jumped up off the ground, turned to me with a big smile, and gave me two thumbs up. She dusted herself off, re-mounted her horse, and entered the show ring for her class. I found out after she returned from the ring (with a second-place ribbon!) that she’d been completely unhurt and unruffled by her fall. This was five years ago, and in the extensive riding she’s done since, she’s had no further falls or injuries.

When we learn of someone going down, whether on the sports field or in life more generally – whether or not we know them or are present in person – we can affirm the spiritual qualities that all of us are created by God to express, and know that there’s never an instant when anyone is outside the care of the all-powerful God. And this opens the door for healing.

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