Good Contents Are Everywhere, But Here, We Deliver The Best of The Best.Please Hold on!

The “Minnesota Miracle.”  Alabama’s overtime victory over Georgia. Georgia’s overtime win over Oklahoma. New England’s late drive to defeat Jacksonville. The Eagles defense holding off the Falcons on their final drive.   

These are just a few of the recent games that illustrate this idea – “It could have gone either way.”

In each of those games, there were great plays that led to those victories. A great catch here. An acrobatic defensive play there. Without those, the results probably would have been completely different.  

“It could have gone either way.” It is one of the things I love about sports.  

In that reality, we tend to focus on those great plays. Understandably. Those plays draw our attention and admiration for all that it takes to make them a possibility – like hard work, discipline, and teamwork.  

However, I want to shift the focus of our attention. Rather than just those great plays, I want you to consider for a moment the number of little things that led to the necessity of such great plays.  

For instance, If the Saints make their third down conversion in the previous series and score a touchdown, how would that have impacted the Vikings on the final play calling and the Saints on their defense? Would there still have been a “Minnesota Miracle”? If Alabama true freshman Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t take the 16 yard sack on the previous play, would the same play that resulted in the 41-yard score been called? Would Alabama have still won their fifth National Championship under Nick Saban? If certain penalties in a number of these games hadn’t been missed, would the dramatic events have even been a possibility?

What I am hoping to point out is that it is not just the great plays that make a difference. It is also a lot of little things, some seemingly insignificant at the time, that push the games toward such a conclusion.  

I bring this up because, in several of these games, players who made those great plays brought God into the equation.  

Here is Vikings receiver Tyler Diggs on the ‘Minnesota Miracle,’ “I give everything to God,” Stefon Diggs told Fox Sports. He thanked his coaches and teammates for giving him the opportunity, then pointed to God, “God did the rest, He put me here. And I’m just thankful.” Afterwards, Case Keenum, the quarterback who threw the pass, said, “God is so good.”

Here is Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on the overtime victory:

In this interview, Tua says, “You know, with God all things are possible! That’s what happened tonight.”

If you watched the Georgia/Oklahoma game, Georgia quarterback, Jake Fromm, said basically the same thing in his interview after the game. So did Eagles quarterback, Nick Foles, after their win over the Falcons.

Now consider these two ideas together: 

The game could have gone either way based on not just big plays but on many “little things,” God being credited for the victory – either implied or specifically stated.

When you listen to these players and consider the teeter-totter way that these games could have gone, how do you factor God’s involvement in the game? Do you see God orchestrating the events for the winners as some of these players imply or do you chalk it up to pure coincidence, just a random series of events?

I bring this up not so much to settle the question of “Does God care who wins?” but to ask you to consider the question more deeply. (The answer is more important than you think.)

As I have considered the question and asked others to do the same, I have found troubling implications to the “No” answer and to the “Yes” answer, ones that either trivialize sports or God.  

I also bring this up because I have found this to be a very personal issue, not just something theoretical to be argued about in bars or on sports talk shows. To illustrate this point, ask the question, “Does God care who wins?” at your next lunch or breakfast. If your experience is like mine, the conversation will quickly get very lively.  

If you are tracking with me and wrestle with this question, maybe even unsure of your answer to the question, “Does God care who wins?” or want to examine more carefully the troubling implications of either of the “No” or “Yes” answer, I would point you to a book I wrote last summer titled Does God Care Who Wins?

Here are a couple of reactions from readers:

“I received the book yesterday and read it cover to cover last night! Thank you so much, I loved it…Appreciated the blend of story-telling, scripture, deep theological truth, specific quotes and stories from athletes and practical implications. Really well done and a really helpful resource that I can see lots of uses for.”  

Collegiate Soccer Coach

“I finished “Does God Care Who Wins?” on the plane Sunday… could not put it down…..Seriously, you did an amazing job addressing a question asked by millions but not answered my many, and if so, not with the thought and care you did….Going to be passing this book along to family and friends for the rest of my life… so glad God had you write this.”

Businessman and Serious Golfer

“I have been an athlete and a NAIA collegiate volleyball coach who regularly and intentionally led a counter-cultural, positive, collegiate Christian sports team for 13 years. I have naively answered that question “Does God Care Who Wins?” with this answer: ‘God doesn’t care who wins. He cares about the athletes, coaches, referees and spectators at the game. He cares how we experience the game and the relationships we continue to build with those we play with, but he doesn’t impact the outcome of a game.’ 
I held that general view (with minor alterations over the years) until I read Bob’s book.  I must acknowledge that the insights Bob shared about our God, and how He cares about us, and he therefore cares about what we care about, dramatically changed my own answer to the question raised in his book title.  What a paradigm shift!”

College Professor – Health & Exercise Science

I ask you again to consider the questions, “If the game could have gone either way, what role does God play in the outcome?  Does he actually care who wins?” 

For more – Does God Care Who Wins? Is available on Amazon –


I recently ran across a satirical look at sports in the United States titled Inside America’s Largest Religious Revival You Know Nothing About. The author, Heather Smith, makes the following claim:

“This new religious revival has remained under the radar in large part because its adherents do not claim any religious attachment to this social institution, but by every measure of behaviors typically associated with religion, it is deceitful to label it as anything less.”

Following this claim, the author then creatively but very poignantly points out the following marks of the sports culture to prove her point:

  • Devotion – “These disciples are willing to sacrifice almost limitlessly where their dedication to this faith is concerned.”

  • Impartation – “One reason for the brilliant success of Athletica in handing down its tenets from generation to generation is the belief that children should be initiated into the fullness of its ways as soon as possible.”

  • Dedication –“In the more devout Athletica households, diet and other bodily disciplines are also part of the ascetic training…Those most dedicated to this life will carefully regulate their sleep to ensure supreme attunement and awareness in the practice of Athletica.”

  • Centrality – “Unquestionably, the ongoing success of Athletica is rooted in its centrality to the lives of its devotees.


Heather concludes her article with the following – This depth of enculturation is most certainly the key to the trenchant, growing success of Athletica, which—by all reasonable evidence—has already replaced its rival religions in most American homes.

While you may not completely go along with her tongue-in-cheek comparison of sports and religion, you have to acknowledge the underlying idea behind the article – WE WORSHIP SPORTS!

To highlight this reality even further, take a look at this 90 second video from Skit Guys.

We care about this idolatry at CEDE Partners. We don’t want to get rid of sports. We want to redeem them.

One of the key steps in that process of redemption is the acknowledgement of that idolatry. While no one likes to admit it, the truth is that everyone who plays or watches sports is prone to this idolatry. It is a part of our DNA.

Think again if you read the article by Heather Smith or watched the video by the Skit Guys. How did you feel as you did so? Did it make you feel a little uncomfortable? If so, would you wonder why? Maybe it was because it struck a little too “close to home” or too deep in our hearts.

If that discomfort is the case, acknowledge that to God and ask him to reveal the source. Ask him to show you where you might be making sports and idol and repent wherever and whenever he shows you that idolatry.

He delights to move us away from the unsatisfying pursuits of our hearts to the only one worthy of worship and who alone can satisfy our longing hearts. After all, he is in the business of redemption – both people and the idols of our culture like sports.

For further insights into these ideas, take a look at these blogs:


“Of course, we pray for victory.”


This response came in answer to a series of questions from Christianity Today to the Houston Astros Spanish-speaking Chaplain, Juan Jesus Alaniz. The article ran during the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers that the Astros eventually won in the 7th game.


After that particular comment, the interviewer asked Juan directly, “So you pray that they’ll win?” He responded, “Oh yeah. We’re more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.”


“Should we pray to win?” Just as with Juan, this is a common question asked of Sports Chaplains, athletes and coaches who declare themselves Christians, or anyone who is in Sports Ministry in general. I want to take a stab at this question and, in doing so, reflect on what can happen if we don’t pray and what can happen if we do.


What if we don’t pray for wins?

Any athlete or coach is competing because he or she wants to win. That person may or may not want to win at all costs, but the heart desire of competitors is to be honored for their skill. This reality is shown by our longing for trophies like the one that went to the Astros.


With this in mind, if we don’t pray for the win, I would question how well we are acknowledging the desires of our heart. I would wonder just how honest we are being with ourselves or with God about what we really want.


If we do acknowledge this desire to win but don’t pray, we may be closing the door on the possibility through this prayer for God’s transforming power to change our hearts. This is significant. The Story of Redemption tells us we were made for glory and honor but lost that glory when we turned from God. Since that day, our hearts have been searching for glory, apart from God, seen so clearly in the realm of sports and our thirst for championships. Even when a person turns to God in response to his offer to redeem and restore them to glory in Christ, we still struggle with establishing this glory on our own.


Our prayer for winning may be an expression of that struggle. We may find through our prayer just how badly we want to win. Our prayer may actually expose the self-centered nature of our desire to win and of our request. This realization could open us to our need for turning away from that self-centeredness to God and the pursuit of his will rather than our own.


If we don’t pray, we may miss the opportunity for this needed transformation.


This exposing nature of prayer is one of the reasons the Scriptures has verses like the following:


“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication,

let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

Notice, the writer speaks about WHAT to pray. “In everything” includes the game that is about to be played.


He also speaks about HOW to pray. “By prayer and supplication” implies a worshipful asking. Worshipful would include coming to God believing he hears our prayers and cares about our prayers. Asking would, in that faith, offer what is on our hearts to him, including our desire to win.


If you don’t pray, let me ask you, “Why don’t you pray to win?”


I have asked others this question and their answers typically boil down to two:

  • “God doesn’t care who wins anyway so why pray.”
  • “It is too risky to open up that desire. God may deny, even squash it.”


If you resonate with the first answer, I would ask to think about how you know he doesn’t care and point you to a larger treatise of this subject in Chapter 2 of the book Does God Care Who Wins?


If you resonate with the second answer, I would ask you to consider your view of God in light of the above verse and the one immediately following it:


“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7


When the writer mentions the “peace of God” and guarding your “hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,” he wants us to see the heart of God for prayer. Prayer is designed to bring us face to face with God, with the result being peace and deepened connection, not fear and distance. Not praying about winning removes us from that audience and the transformational nature of it.


What if we do pray for wins?

If we pray for the win and win, we ought to be free to embrace the win but careful not to let it establish something about our identity. God doesn’t answer the winners’ prayers because they are more deserving of the affirmative answer than the other team’s prayer. God answers these prayers because the wins and the losses are a part of his will, his kingdom coming to “earth as it is heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)


With this in mind, winners are free to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all of creation, including the game, and accept His will with grace and humility embracing and enjoying the glory that comes from winning. At the same time, they should also acknowledge the win as undeserved and just a taste, an echo, of the real glory promised us in Christ, received at the consummation of all things. (Colossians 1:27 – Christ in you the hope of glory.)


This perspective is important because of the temptation for the winners to let the win establish something about their identity or the quality of their prayers. If we are honest, we can admit an awareness of that temptation and even our succumbing to it by thinking we prayed better or are better when we win. This reality lies deep in our hearts even though it is wrong and is a great distortion of the gospel of Jesus Christ (For a further exposition of this idea, see Chapter 3 of the book Does God Care Who Wins?)


The opposite side of this reality is just as prevalent. If we pray and lose, we can easily think God didn’t answer our prayer because there is something wrong with our prayer. Or worse, there is something wrong with us! Both of these ideas of deserved defeat are just as much a distortion of the gospel and God’s ways for his children as the distortion of deserved victory.  


If we pray and lose, we are instead called to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all creation, including our game, and trust that God had a higher, better purpose in answering our prayer the way he did. We can accept God’s will with grace and humility, allowing the disappointment to be real and owned. We can acknowledge and allow that disappointment to move us toward longing for the undeserved glory that will one day be ours in Christ at the consummation.


Should we pray to win? Absolutely.


How we pray to win matters. We should pray with an open, humble heart, willing to submit to God’s work of transformation of our hearts and our prayers and God’s good, acceptable and perfect will for us whether we win or lose.  


Looking for Sports Outreach Group? We are now Cede Sports