Pray for Sport and Recreation

Sport and Recreation – December 2019

(By Bjorn Schmid, reviewed by Lilian Schmid)

From the Gospel of Mark, chapter 2, verses 1 to 12:

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.

Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.  This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Physical well-being is a major focus in modern societies, and from the scripture above it would appear to be in all societies. We are very concerned today to ensure that there is a balance of healthy living between our work lives and our life outside work. When we’re not working we’re ‘at leisure’, or retired. Much of this non-working time is spent on various forms of recreational and sporting activities, and this seems to become a major obsession with people in Australia, from primary school sports, to outdoor activities and spectating (or participating in) events, to bowls (and drinks) at the club.

Of course this is truer in more affluent circumstances: unless impeded by bad health or a restricted environment, poorer people are rarely ‘at rest’ as they need to feed and otherwise continuously provide for themselves and their families. The idea of sport and recreation is to play with their kids or retell stories around a fire at night.

Loss or limitations of physical facilities often holds people back from surviving well, and ultimately from succeeding in life. Even with the social services and funding available today in some countries, many people with disabilities and chronic sickness are missing out on much of a ‘normal balanced life’. Sport and recreation is often not a part of their lives.

We know nothing of the social and financial status of the paralytic in the scripture above, but we do understand that he was carried on a portable bed or mat by four people and had to be lowered through the roof to see Jesus. Our Lord of course saw his condition and knew why they had brought him, but He had a different focus: Christ was more interested in the man’s Spiritual well-being.

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
[1 Timothy 4:8]

Paul the Apostle here highlights the ranking of physical vs spiritual, impressing upon Timothy the broad-reaching benefits of Spiritual well-being – ‘godliness’. All our physical training and balance and life success is limited in it’s value, effect and duration, but ‘godliness’ reaches and impacts positively on everything, forever. Christ Jesus wanted the paralytic man to have Spiritual well-being first.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” [Matthew 6:33]

Christ in Matthew 6 speaks about all the things we think we need, and we do, but He instructs us clearly to seek the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness first, all and only available from Him of course.

The Lord’s second gift to the man is physical well-being via a direct command of action (verse 11) :

So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

The man obeyed Christ and did so – I wonder how far the man had to walk home? I’m positive he praised God all the way!

Paul makes many analogies between athletic training and spiritual training in his letters, e.g. 1 Cor 9:24-27, 2 Tim 2:5, Gal 2:2, and Phi 3:13-14. Christians who seek to reach out to people in the sphere of Sports and Recreation can look to these verses to help.

We can all take encouragement also to look after the bodies God has given us and not neglect to keep ourselves ‘physically fit’ as much as reasonablely possible:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
[1 Corinthians 6:19-20]

The body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit” and must not be neglected, but our ministry to others has eternity in view.

Prayer Strategy

  • Do some research on your local clubs and recreation venues and pray for them to be places clean of spiritual corruption and anti-God attitudes, but instead to be places of encouragement and life. Pray especially for Christ’s people in them to be a witness to the love and wisdom of ‘godliness’.
  • Find our about you local and wider government departments and agencies that are dedicated to Sport and Recreation – pray for these, for the people working in them, the gate-keepers and decision makers, and also for the Christians within them to be salt and light.
  • Find out who are the politicians in your government(s) responsible for policies and finding of Sport and Recreation and pray for them and their staff.
  • Pray for your colleagues, friends and family members who are caught up in sports and recreational activities and neglect/ignore their relationship with God and the people in the Body or Christ: pray for them to have a breakthrough in their lives and establish/renew a deep relationship with Christ, and find ways to use their sport and recreational interests to relate and share their faith with other people.


Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
[Matthew 9:35-38]

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