"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

Anybody who follows any sort of sporting event is likely no stranger to how some athletes openly thank God for their success in the game. You are likely also to have noticed that people often scoff and roll their eyes when this happens, taking almost personal offense at the suggestion that God had anything to do with it.

"Why is that athlete thanking God?" goes the common refrain. "Don't they know that God has better things to do? Aren't there people starving and suffering in this world who deserve God's attention more? What if their opponent believes in God as well? Did they just not believe hard enough?"

Complaints such as these completely miss the point of why an athlete raises their finger to the sky after a successful play or a successful game, or of why they give all credit to God when speaking to reporters. They also miss some very important parts of Christianity and of how Christians express their love and praise for God.

When a basketball player, for example, thanks God for their success, it doesn't mean that they believe God literally carried their shots through the hoop and helped them score points. This would negate all of the hard work and dedication on the part of the athlete. What they are really saying is that their faith has been an important factor in getting them this far.

As we read in Philippians 4:13: "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." God is the source of strength for a great many athletes, and when they are thanking Him for their success they are acknowledging how much they had to lean on Him in order to get this far. Faith can be one of the most powerful sources of inspiration in a person's life.

When an athlete thanks and praises God for success in a game it is also their way of, ultimately, giving God credit for everything in life. It is an admission that God is omnipotent and omnipresent, and that nothing in the world could happen at all if God had not created it and if He did not continue to sustain it at every moment in time and every locus of space. It is an expression of gratitude for one's God-given life. This sentiment is beautifully summed up in a spiritually inspiring quote from Revelation 4:11:

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

It certainly does seem self-centered and silly to assume that God would grant favor to one athlete or one team because their faith was stronger. Thankfully, as you can see, this is not what Christian athletes mean when they give thanks to God. Their praise is both an expression of how their faith had aided them on their journey, and a recognition that, ultimately, nothing at all would be possible without God.


Spiritual Prayer 

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.  He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”