I have spent the last few weeks explaining to around twenty radio stations from around the world why I didn’t write a prayer for England to win the World Cup. God is not partisan, I explained, and there are bigger things to pray for – especially as prayer is about (a) expressing our desires honestly (even if they are dodgy), and (b) having our own vision of God, the world and us changed by our praying.
Anyway, I suggested, it might take too much of a miracle for England to win the World Cup: we constantly over-rate, over-hype and over-anticipate England performances… and then indulge in a collective intemperate bloodletting against team and manager when they (consistently) fail to deliver on the big stage. At least we are fairly consistent in behaving like this in every competition. (On BBC’s Newsnight programme Gavin Esler said they had intended to show highlights of the game, but there weren’t any…)
But, after watching England’s remarkably aimless and seemingly dispassionate performance against Algeria last night, I now feel moved to pen two new prayers specifically for the England team. (I will be praying from a distance as I will be in Canada for the G8 Faith Leaders Summit – I am NOT leaving the country because I can’t bear to watch the Slovenia match next week…)
The first is simple and honest:
The second offers a little more:
God, who played the cosmos into being, please help England rediscover their legs, their eyes and their hunger: that they might run more clearly, pass more nearly and enjoy the game more dearly. Amen.
Well, don’t say I didn’t try.