So, the 2014 World Cup has kicked off. The Church of England published my five prayers yesterday and the response has been mixed. Anyone with half a sense of humour is OK with them.
I actually wrote them four years ago for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Only two were written before the tournament began, and the shortest one was written part-way through the competition when England were sliding out. Context is everything.
But, why write new ones when the last lot still have life (despite miserable pedants). After all, prayer is about expressing our real feelings and desires to God, not about having to justify them ethically first.
Here they are:
Prayer 1 : A Prayer for the World Cup
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.
Prayer 2 : A Prayer for Brazil
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 Brazil in her hosting, on the nations represented in competition and on those who travel to join in the party. Amen.
Prayer 3 : 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.
Prayer 4 : Prayers for the England Football team
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.