I recall when my son was small and playing soccer that he wanted to win every game.  Of course, he did!  We wanted his team to win, as well.  And often, I caught him whispering prayers to win.  But of course, there were many times the other team won.  This was probably one of my son’s first experiences with asking God and then not receiving what he prayed for.

Fast forward to just this year, when many Christians were praying for the election and for their candidate of choice to win the presidency.  I’d say many were confident that their choice was the best choice, and so they prayed and prayed hard.  I saw many say just that on social media.  They were anxious all week as we awaited the election results, stating they were praying for our nation, for the “right” one to win. 

But just like I told my son…the other team probably had boys on it that were praying the same prayer my son was praying.  They wanted their team to win.  But only one team was going to get the answer they wanted, and the other was going to lose. 

It’s hard to explain prayer to kids.  The exercise of prayer starts with asking for Christmas gifts, for a friend to spend the night, and yes…for the winning score at a game. 

But I remember that my son looked like he understood that while he was praying one thing, another boy could be praying the opposite – and the sure fact was that one team would win!

It seems that opposite prayers, especially among Christians, tend to bring out the worst in us!  We are sure that we’ve “heard from God” and what we are praying for is the best for all.  But across the street is a friend that believes in the power of prayer as well, and she’s praying the opposite prayer! 

How can it be so often that Christians that love God and want the best are praying opposite prayers?

Could it be that we’re praying the wrong words?  Instead of praying for particular individual to be placed into office, perhaps we should be praying about the things that matter the most…loving others and loving God…and asking God for those things to take place no matter who gets voted into office.

Maybe our kids should be taught to pray for God’s presence to be on the field among players, as they compete but honor, on the field and off.

Instead of praying for a win, or for our own choice, or for what we “know” to be best, we could just lift up His name and pray that His kingdom would come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Maybe, just maybe, if we learn to pray that way and teach our kids the same, there won’t be signs in our yards with a candidate’s name, but rather one that says something else.  I have a friend that had a sign made in America’s colors that said “Love God and Love Others.”  I think all that pray would agree on those two choices.  But who is going to run our country on those values?  We had no idea, but only hopes in men with flaws; because we all had issues we deemed the most important ones to consider.

Who is going to win a soccer game?  It might be the best team, or the one that makes the least mistakes, or there might be a tie.  But if the prayers of the kids are made, asking their Father for all to have a good time while playing, there will be congratulatory wishes at the end of the game…no matter who wins.

I know that’s not a popular sentiment.  Parents yell on the fields and stir up anger at coaches, and get called off the field due to misconduct.  I think some of us should be called off the field for a while too, to relearn what prayer really is.  Because opposite prayers are taking place across the street in the homes of people we love. 

We don’t have all the answers.  And we’re not supposed to know what’s best.  I’m pretty sure that’s why the Lord demonstrated the best kind of prayer to start with Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…you know the rest. 

We have a president, it seems.  And it’s time to pray for our leaders, all of us.  One prayer for the hope of our nation.


Opposite Prayers
by Marcy Lytle

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