I read an interesting article about a high school football team in Tennessee that had a ritual of having an opening prayer before each home football game. It seems that the announcer up in the booth, as part of his pre-game routine, would always pray before the beginning of the game. Of course, the prayer would be heard in every corner of the stadium as it reverberated through the public address system. In fact, this reminds me of the rodeo that Janet and I attended earlier this summer in Red Lodge, Montana. The announcer there was much the same – he prayed over the loudspeaker and that was that. If you were an agnostic or non-believer in Christ, there is no question that you would have been a little uncomfortable. And you know what? The crowd didn’t care – you were in their area of the country and they had a certain way of doing things.
Well, it seems that things are much the same way in Tennessee. Since the 1930’s, live prayer has been a way of life for this football town. Anyway, apparently somebody complained about the fact that they had to listen to prayer through the public address system and that religion shouldn’t be thrust down the throats of the spectators. With great reluctance, the prayers had to stop. Several weeks ago, the first week without prayer, seemed a little awkward – after all, the announcer had done this for years and the crowd had come to expect this part of the pre-game ceremonies.
What were they going to do? Well, one brave cheerleader came up with an idea. She huddled around her teammates on the cheerleading squad and started to recite the Lord’s Prayer – you know the one… “Our Father, who art in heaven…” Anyway, the rest of the cheerleaders started to join in, then a few people in the stands; and a new tradition was born. Now, during the pre-game festivities, the cheerleaders start the prayer and the rest of the spectators in the stands join in. Soon, the entire stadium is reciting the Lord’s Prayer and it is just as loud as it would have been through the speaker system. What makes it even more interesting is that because the prayer is started by the students and not the announcer – and it doesn’t go through the official public address system, it is perfectly within the law to do. All because of the courage of a high school girl who wanted to keep prayer at the games.
As you have already figured out, our verse for this evening is the Lord’s Prayer – found in the book of Mathew and of course, in the King James Version. We are told by Christ that we are to pray a certain way, and then He demonstrates what we are to do. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus says, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to profess our faith and the Lord’s Prayer is probably the most popular prayer in the western world. My prayer is that you will have the courage to step out in faith and demonstrate your commitment to God the same way this high school cheerleading squad did. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…