It is surprising what grabs the attention of the media. Yesterday the Church of England published our prayers for the World Cup. Today I have done a pile of radio interviews and have more booked for tomorrow.

Most have been fine and very positive. The funniest question so far has been: “Did you write them for a special occasion?” Duh…

But, it is amazing what some people read into them and how seriously some people (some atheists, to be precise) take them. They are written to help us express our hopes, but also widen our vision. The World Cup will be a massive event and we want it to go really well – especially for the people of South Africa. So, the first two prayers capture that hope:

Lord of all the nations, who played the cosmos into being,
guide, guard and protect all who work or play in the World Cup.
May all find in this competition a source of celebration,
an experience of common humanity and
a growing attitude of generous sportsmanship to others.
Amen.

God of the nations, who has always called his people to be a blessing for the world, bless all who take part in the World Cup.

Smile on South Africa in her hosting,
on the nations represented in competition and
on those who travel to join in the party.
Amen.

So far, not so bad. But, the third prayer was partly intended to be funny – giving words to those who dread three weeks of football, with all the mountaintop-valley emotions of their nearest and dearest football lovers:

A prayer for those simply not interested
Lord, as all around are gripped with World Cup fever,
bless us with understanding,
strengthen us with patience and
grant us the gift of sympathy if needed.
Amen.

It is slightly and gently ironic…

Thanks to those media organs who have joined in with enthusiasm, curiosity and some amusement. I would be grateful, however, for a translation of the following description from www.newsdatabase.us:

The Bishop of Croydon writes a primary program of prayers for the World Cup, as England fans calculate downbound to their prototypal correct in South Africa.

Sounds painful.

UPDATE (27 May 2010): Very funny addition by a Scot.