Every aspect of our lives is meant to honour God, even sport. So, as we enjoy the Winter Olympics in China, this is a great opportunity to integrate the two and pray through the Olympics.
1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 17 encourages us to pray continually. This might seem impossible, but it can be something that is part of our everyday life, something integrated into the fabric of our day.
Here are some tips to help with your prayers as you watch the amazing athletes and events unfolding at the Games.
A prayer diary is a valuable asset. You can record specific prayers and take notes on how those prayers have been answered. Some people break their diary into different spheres of the Olympics such as athletes, nations/regions, organisations, missions etc.
You could even expand this idea to include pictures or articles on these people or missions. The idea is to have a tangible way to record specific prayers for people and a diary is one way to start.
The late Bishop Desmond Tutu famously said he used to walk on his treadmill each morning and would pray around a world map. Each area would see him praying for God's will for specific leaders or situations in those regions.
Why not take Tutu's approach as you see the different nations of the world represented by their Olympic athletes? A map is a great way to take your prayers global.
Exercise is also an opportunity to meditate on God and His workings in the world. When you go for your daily workout have one or two key prayer points from the Games to meditate and pray over as you go. This could link in with any worship music you may use as part of this workout.
Open Doors lists China as one of the nations most opposed to Christianity and religious freedom. Yet remember in the Bible we see multiple examples of rulers and nations whose hearts are softened by the Holy Spirit (example, Daniel chapter 4). Pray for the persecuted church in China who are faithful to their nation yet still want to honour Jesus as Lord.
Several CTA authors have written a Bible devotional that explores a life changing Bible verse and links it with sport. The Spirit of Victory was written for the Olympics to explore the way all of life, including the Olympics, points to Jesus. This is a great gift or personal devotional to help grow in your faith and pray through the Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee has detailed links to each athlete competing at the Games. If an athlete stands out for you why not research them and pray for them, their family and nation.
This could include giving thanks for their gifts and enjoyment at the Games. However, don't forget to offer quality gospel prayers that the Spirit might draw them deeper in their knowledge of Jesus.
One of the important aspects of praying through the Olympics is to increase the quality of our prayers. Often our prayers are too small and too centralised on us.
Yet some of the best examples of prayer in the Bible display the power in deeper quality prayers. If you want to explore this, read Don Carson's famous book exploring the prayers of the Apostle Paul, Praying With Paul.
What a privilege it is to be invited by the Creator to speak to Him in prayer. Our prayers are heard, not because of our own good deeds but the goodness of Jesus. He acts as a mediator taking our prayers before our loving Heavenly Father. Prayer matters.
Prayer draws us nearer to God and includes Him in every aspect of our life. The Olympics offer us an opportunity to pray for God's light to shine in a world in darkness. Why not use the Games to launch your new prayer patterns globally?
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