Of football and prayers

world cup- USA vs Portugal

It is the season of football. I’m not really a football fanatic, but lately I seem to be lagging behind in my tasks, reason being; the World Cup. I’m still having a hard time believing that I am actually loving the World Cup. A few weeks ago I would have laughed had anyone told me I would be sacrificing things like movies and soaps to watch football. I think I should take a hard look in the mirror and confirm I’m still the same self-proclaimed soap-a-holic.

Before the world cup kicked off, it had been a while since I sat down to watch a match. The last time I watched the Brazil’s national team in action, Ronaldinho was wearing jersey no. 10 and his team mates Kaka and Ronaldo were still the players to look out for. The other day I saw Neymar Jr., the young Brazilian sensation, in Ronaldinho’s old jersey no. Things did change when I was ‘away’.

After watching the match between Portugal and USA, where the match ended in a 2-2 draw, I couldn’t believe Portugal’s luck. They had scored their second goal in the last thirty seconds of extra time. It was a crucial goal for them because if they lost to USA they would have been the next team packing up to catch the next flight out of Brazil, together with Cameroon, England and Spain-the defending champions.

I couldn’t help but notice Cristiano Ronaldo’s unease as the final minutes ticked away, and the score line was still 2-1, after USA scored their second goal about nine minutes to full time. As I watched the seconds quickly passing, with ninety seconds left before the final whistle was blown, I just told mom, “At this point it is only a miracle that can save Cristiano and his team.”

Seconds later, the commentator was shouting, in the invigorated ‘it’s a gooooaaaaaal’ tone. Portugal had just scored their second goal, equalizing the score. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was just unbelievable! In seconds, an incredible cross from Cristiano, the captain of the team, gave them a lifeline, denying the US team a straight victory, which would have seen them go through to the knock out stage; in the last 16.

The two teams as it is, are in a tough group with the other two teams being Germany and Ghana. After the match ended, as I was listening to football analysts, one of them was saying the single point Portugal had gained after the draw wouldn’t help the team. Their next match will be with Ghana, another strong team and that would mean the Portuguese might still end up getting eliminated in the group stage.

“In their next game,” the analyst said, “only their skills will save them. What they do on the field is what will determine if they continue to the next level or not. Not even prayers will save them.”

I couldn’t believe it. Not even prayers will save them? I wondered. In my opinion the last goal had been a miracle. Thankfully, another analyst gave him his two cents worth on the matter. “If my grandma heard you say that, she would totally beg to differ. Prayers would totally help.”

The first analyst reminded me of a teacher in high school. He was a Christian, but if he saw someone praying when he was giving out test papers, he would light-heartedly say, “If you haven’t been revising, don’t bother praying.” And I always found fault in that statement.

I always tried to get the logic behind that statement. Faith without action is dead. One can’t fail to read and still expect to pass. Just like Cristiano and his Portuguese compatriots; if they don’t play exceptionally there is no way they are going to win. Still, who is to say the Portuguese hadn’t been practising enough?

prayer can make the impossible possible

They may have lost their first match to Germany, after being thrashed 4-0, still, who is to say prayers won’t help them in their next match against Ghana’s black stars.

There is power in prayer. Prayer changes things. Sometimes I get the feeling God answers the prayers of non-believers faster than He does with believers, in the hope of convincing them that He listens when they call Him.

God listens; whether one believes in Him or not, the minute one chooses to call on Him, He listens. He may take longer to answer, but He does eventually. It is true, that one must back their prayers with actions; still there shouldn’t come a time when one feels prayers won’t help. Prayers always help. It’s not our place to judge if God will listen or not. His thoughts are not ours.

If you’re in need of something, pray for it. Let God decide if He will grant you that desire or not. Don’t limit Him.

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