By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
The world’s attention will soon be on athletes competing at the upcoming Winter Olympics. Those Olympians will inspire us with wonder as we watch them do their best in the Olympic Games. Every athlete has trained hard, with faithful dedication, to put his or her God-given talents into action. They each are boldly taking risks and trying to win, while competing with goodwill toward their fellow athletes. All of the Olympic athletes can benefit from our support in prayer as they move forward with their Olympic journeys. Here are 5 athletes’ prayers to help us spiritually support the Olympians who will inspire us through their sports and stories.
Why Praying for People We Don’t Know, Like Olympic Athletes, Can Be Powerful
God has designed us all to be connected to him and each other in bonds of love. When we pray for other people – regardless of whether or not we know them – we strengthen those bonds. Praying for others welcomes God’s love to flow through our lives into the lives of our fellow humans. It helps us see the beauty of our connections with each other, helps them with valuable spiritual support, and leads to all sorts of other benefits. My book Wake Up to Wonder describes research studies that show that praying for others strengthens social awareness and compassion, reduces polarization, increases a sense of community, and leads to awe.
Ephesians 6:18 urges us to “… be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” while James 5:16 encourages us to “… pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” As we pray, we welcome God’s strength into people’s lives – and athletes exemplify the importance of relying on God for strength. Ephesians 6:10 declares that we all should “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”
When we pray for a diverse group of people (like Olympians) here on earth, we’re preparing ourselves to worship with the multitude of diverse people who will join us in heaven. Revelation 7:9 mentions “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” standing before God’s throne together in heaven.
Praying for athletes, in particular, can inspire us with a deeper understanding of how important it is for all of us to stay strong in our faith. Many Bible verses that relate to sports show how sports can serve as a metaphor for the race of faith that God calls us all to run. As we pray for athletes who inspire us with their strength in action at the Olympics, our attention naturally goes to the source of all strength: God. Praying for Olympic athletes unleashes God’s power to flow through our lives and the athletes’ lives, blessing us all in the process.
5 Athletes’ Prayers for the Upcoming Olympics
Here are some specific prayers for Olympic athletes. We can personalize these examples while we pray, as God leads us.
1. A prayer for God’s love to bring unity in diversity. “God, thank you for each of the athletes who has traveled to the Olympics from around the world. The diverse nations, cultures, types of sports, and personalities they represent show us a variety of ways to participate in the Olympic Games that the whole world loves. As the athletes gather, please meet them where they are with your loving presence. May your love prevail as they relate to each other. Help them be kind to each other, listen to each other’s stories, and learn from each other’s experiences. Give them the goodwill they need to compete with mutual respect and excellent sportsmanship. Through the power of your love, may you connect them in friendships and unify them as they work toward their goals together. When people watch the Olympics, may they be inspired by the spirit of your love at work in your global human family, and may that promote more peace in our world.”
2. A prayer for faith to overcome fear. “God, empower the Olympians to compete with courage. Don’t let any fear – like losing competitions or becoming injured – stop the athletes from doing the good work you’ve called them to do. Help them to take the risks they need to do their best. Give them the peace that only you can give, so they can compete well under pressure. Encourage the athletes who choose to trust in you, answering their prayers and deepening their faith. As the world watches athletes rely on their faith during the Olympics, may the power of faith in you be on display for all to see.”
3. A prayer for strength in any circumstances. “God, please give the athletes strength for their souls and bodies as they participate in the Olympic Games. Help them be strong, no matter what circumstances they face. Win or lose, may they model the importance of relying on you for a watching world. May the athletes’ strength inspire many people around the world to also turn to you for strength in their own lives. Give the athletes the grace they need to do their best and trust you with the outcome. May they celebrate victories and learn from losses knowing that you love them completely and unconditionally.”
4. A prayer for joy and inspiration. “God, thank you for the opportunity to enjoy watching some of the world’s top athletes compete in their sports. Use their passion and dedication to bring joy to many people. May they inspire those who are watching to discover, develop, and use their own talents to the fullest. Help the Olympians be positive role models for a hurting world that needs joy and inspiration from the Olympics. Bless the athletes as they do their best to contribute to the world, and let their efforts point us all toward you God, the source of all hope.”
5. A prayer for the motivation to persevere with purpose. “God, please help the Olympic athletes stay focused on fulfilling their purpose – to choose love and do their best to live as you lead them – no matter what the results of their competitions are. Strengthen them to persevere under pressure. As we face our own challenges, let the athletes’ perseverance motivate us to persevere as well. May we all seek your presence and rely on your strength day by day, until the end of our race of faith, when we hope to celebrate with you at the finish line in heaven.”
Praying for Olympic athletes is an important way to support people who are working to inspire people around the world. As the Olympics takes place, we can use these athletes’ prayers to welcome God’s power into the Games. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 tells us: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” Olympians may or may not win medals, despite their best efforts. We may celebrate victories sometimes and suffer defeats at other times, as we do our best in our own lives. No matter what, God is with us, cheering us on – and so are other praying people. These athletes’ prayers can help all of us run the race of faith well!
If you would like a personalized prayer list of Olympic Athletes, go to https://prayforfive.com/home.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/BrianAJackson
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter.