THE power of prayer in every aspect of sports cannot be underestimated and athletes far and wide have come to appreciate the powerful drive contained in prayer in their quest for glory.
To be a better athlete does not necessarily mean that an individual must train harder or longer but that one needs to address all the components that make up a successful athletic performance spiritually, mentally and physically.
Prayer in modern sports has become one of the vital components that teams and individual athletes use on the road to success. Today, the sports fraternity has realised the importance of seeking divine intervention before or during a competition.
It is a common spectacle nowadays to see footballers point to the heavens or getting down on their knees facing Mecca (In the case of Muslims) each time they score to appreciate the divine hand in their performance.
The fact that athletes do not get into competition with a completely empty head, they must include prayer and other mental skills in their training which enable them to develop the strategies that would prepare them to enter a competition with the ‘proper mindset.’
If an individual is interested in getting the most of their athletic endeavors, they can no longer treat their performance as a combination of isolated factors which come together in some mysterious and unified way on the day of the competition.
A long distance athlete would never think of entering a long distance race without spending time physically preparing the body to meet the conditioning demands of a race. Yet, most athletes probably enter a race without determining what spiritual needs they might require to achieve the best physical performance.
According to the Holy Bible, in the book of Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will open onto you.” Simple as these words may appear to be, they have inspired people to achieve the best of results in various sports disciplines.
The 2012 triumphant Chipolopolo squad showed the whole world what prayer can bring forth if all the members of the team put their hopes entirely in the Almighty God in addition to their skills and strategies.
Considered as underdogs at the start of the competition, Zambia progressed through all stages and even the death of penalty shootouts, the lads never stopped praying till they were crowned African Champions in Libreville, Gabon.
It is becoming increasingly important to integrate the spiritual and physical aspect of performance in sports.
Traditionally, no attention has been given to the spiritual aspect aspects of performance while coaches and athletes have devoted most of their attention to the physical components of performance.
Yet coaches and athletes often attribute poor performance to things related to the mental aspects of performance such as “the team did not focus,” “we made silly mistakes and we got punished,” or “we lost concentration.”
These are all comments frequently used to describe competitive disappointments, but rarely do we find a coach who says that the team lost because they did not put God first before the game.
It is unfortunate that the greatest percentage of excuses is generally attributed to the mental and emotional aspects of the game.
There is usually no time spent to incorporate the deficiencies into the prayer routine for the team. Rather, it is a case of back to the drawing board for a new physical strategy or increased practice time.
As the country unites in the national day of prayer today, it is important to rcognise that prayer is a powerful tool in sports that if applied to the various techniques and strategies, can yield positive results.
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