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It Was More Than Good Sportsmanship

We're down by 2 points with three seconds on the clock. A stream of sweat trickles down the side of my face. I can feel my heart beating and ready to pounce out of my throat. I almost forget to breathe as I watch my daughter chuck the basketball up into the air. I feel as if I am in a slow motion dream. The ball smacks one side of the hoop, bounces to the other side and floats easily into the net. It's good for three points. Everyone is up on their feet, cheering on the Blackbirds. We have the game in the bag. One second left on the clock and we are up by 1 point. As I am in the middle of a high-five with my husband, something happens out on the floor. There is a jumble of bodies and a whistle blows signaling a foul called on the Blackbirds. The other team picks up a free-throw shot, and just like that our team lost the game. On the drive home we would be reliving the game all over again, talking about what each girl should have done differently, as if we could have ever accomplished it ourselves. This would become a ritual after each game; a play by play analysis from the experts on the sideline.

One day, after praying for my daughter Samantha to have a good game and to be protected from injury, I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me. He was asking me why I only prayed for Samantha and not the other girls on the team. Why was I only concerned about my daughters performance and safety? After sharing with my husband and daughter how the Holy Spirit was calling me out, I scrawled out a list of all the players and coaches on the team. We divided them up between the three of us and prayed for them specifically by name every night through the rest of the season. If we were aware of any personal things going on in their lives, it was raised up in prayer as well.

I would love to say from that moment on we won every game, but that's not what happened. Honestly, I don't remember how many games we did win that year. What I do remember is how our attitudes changed as we watched the games. We began rooting for the other girls, wanting them to be successful, and to see them conquer personal challenges. We weren't concerned about who had the most points, or steals, or passes. We truly wanted the best for each girl and coach, both on and off the court. Sure we wanted to win the game, but we felt we were winning when the people we were praying for scored not only on the floor, but in their personal and academic lives as well.

The amazing thing about all of this is the blessing we received in return. You know how gossip can spread like wildfire? - so can praying for one another. If one person hears you are praying for them; they want to do the same for you as well as others. It's the "if each one can reach one" mentality. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2 NIV) Soon other parents on the team were praying, not just for their own daughters but for the other girls on the team. I began to contemplate, couldn't we take this further? Why not pray for our co-workers to be recognized for their hard work at school, office, or our workplace? Let's pray for our neighbors to see God's blessings in their lives. Ask God today who you can intercede in prayer for and begin praying specifically for them. Watch how He strengthens and blesses both your lives.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for opportunities to learn and grow, to become more like you. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me and who teaches me through all my circumstances how to be more like you. I am thankful you continue to impress upon me to look at others and to invest time in praying for them. Lord, forgive me when I fail to see others the way you do. Make me aware of every occasion where I can pray for someone. I praise you for making it known to me who you are through all situations in my life. Amen

Bible Verse: (1 Timothy 2:1 NIV) I urge, then first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.

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