Is it okay to pray for football and rock stars?

January 25, 2019


photo by Bob Gathany

There was probably more praying going on in downtown Atlanta the first weekend in December than when Sherman showed up with a pocketful of matches. The University of Georgia and The University of Alabama were playing in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the SEC championship and fans were silently and even openly begging God for a victory. 

Just a few blocks away in the State Farm Arena, 20,000 middle aged fans traveled to see the Farewell tour of Elton John. The pop legend had cancelled two previous shows the week before due to an ear infection and fans prayed for him to be able to go on with the show. 

With a heavy dose of church-going in our Southern communities, we were taught to cast our cares and worries at the feet of the Lord, but does he really want to hear about our first-world entertainment woes? Does God care if our Saturday night plans are ruined by a fumble, interception or a rock star running a fever?

My husband and I were able to find last minute tickets to Elton John’s show, thanks to a friend’s knee replacement surgery (I mentioned the middle-aged thing, right?) 

I thought about praying for Elton to feel better, but then felt a twinge of guilt. There were still people homeless in our country from hurricanes and fires. Children were being crippled by an unknown disease and others were hungry. Did God really care about a concert?

The football stadium erupted when Alabama squeaked out a victory, then Elton John took to the stage and played the piano like a possessed musical genius while occasionally pinching his nose to relieve pressure in his swollen ears. 

Looking around the arena, I realized praying for a football team or rock star really meant much more than just a small request for fun.

Parking attendants, security personnel and hourly-paid food service employees may have needed that night of work to help pay bills. The vendors at the football game may have had one of their most lucrative days ever and the extra cash would help purchase Christmas gifts for their children. It may be a silly game or frivolous concert on the surface, but to others, it could have unknowingly been the last fun evening they spent with their family. Maybe – just maybe, there were couples who fell in love when he held her hand during “Your Song.”

A trivial plea for the show to go on could ultimately spiral into a cure for HIV through the Elton John AIDS Foundation which has already contributed millions of dollars to relieve suffering around the world. 

Loving our neighbors as ourselves is the way we were raised down here. God rejoices when we care for one another. 

So perhaps, Southerners who have grown up going to Vacation Bible School and hearing stories from dedicated Sunday School teachers shouldn’t feel bad when they pray for seemingly small things, because God has his eye on the tiny sparrow, majorettes, coaches, bass guitarists, sound technicians and hotdog vendors. He sees the big picture. He can handle it all, and our small prayer could be of great importance to someone else. We’re connected and have the honor of supporting each other through the power of prayer. 

And then came the words that in the heart of a believer could be turned into a rock/doxology of praise . . . “How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.” 
This story first appeared on and will be in the Sunday edition of The Mobile Press Register, The Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times.

  • Heck, I found myself praying over a bundt pan the other day when I was taking a new cake recipe to a party. I do sprinkle in “good” prayers for friends facing surgery, our government, my children, the poor and our tipsy world in general, etc. with my little everyday requests though. That should count for something, I think. BTW, the cake came out of the pan with only one small sticky part. God listens to even our little bitty prayers that may be important only to us.

  • Leslie Anne, I have pondered this question. I am an Alabama fan since childhood and I really wanted to pray to win the national championship, but I didn’t. I guess I should have, but I am sure many were!

    • If it’s on your heart, pray! That’s what I think! Thanks Pam. (Now the Alabama fans need to have a word or two with you).

  • I have had to catch myself during a few football games especially between two certain teams that will remain nameless:) I have always told myself that with all the real problems in the world that I won’t pray for victories, but I am human and caught up in the spirit of the game. Oh well, I know He cares about it all and nothing is too small.
    How lucky y’all were to see Elton John! I am so jealous.

    • Elton John was awesome and it was the nicest crowd I’ve ever seen at a concert. I guess if I had a son who was the kicker for a team, I’d be on my knees praying. Nothing could be more stressful.

  • I read a blog this week by a Christian writer who decided to start a prayer campaign for the salvation of Pricilla Presley. She was asking her readers to join her in this. He tells us to bring all our cares to Him.

    • That’s amazing because I read a newsletter from another columnist who asked for everyone to pray for Lisa Marie Presley. That family won’t know what hit them! Bring it all to him – it’s not too small! Thanks Nancy.

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