TAKE A KNEE: a public gesture of bowing in prayer

The story rage in NFL football over the past several weeks has not been brutal defeats of reigning teams or even scandalous reports of inappropriate behavior by coaches.  To the contrary, the media has been focused on one man, Tim Tebow, the quarterback for the Denver Broncos.  And it’s not even his playing that has attracted so much attention, although he is an incredible quarterback most of the time.  The subject of the media reports and fan spin  has been the spirituality of Tim Tebow. 

Tim is not shy in talking about his deep personal spiritual life.  He attributes his success as a football player to the Grace given to him by “his lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”   And when he does perform well, or when he seeks strength to perform, he drops on one knee, places his fingers on the bridge of his nose, closes his eyes, and prays.   Right there in front of everyone … he prays.

It has been amazing to hear the responses of all kinds of people, from those who are outraged at public displays of spirituality to those who have decided that he is a saint, or an angel sent to remind us of who is really in charge.   We were in a very fancy restaurant the other evening when the maitre ‘d began talking with us about how wonderful it was to have such a role model as Tim Tebow.  Not knowing a lot about Tebow or the Broncos (or much else about the NFL)  I just listen.

I’ve never been a real fan of public displays of faith, even in the confines of the church.  Raising one’s hands in prayer (although it is clearly an ancient Christian prayer form) doesn’t really turn me on. 

I remember being an American Baptist kid in a primarily Roman Catholic community in what seems like a hundred years ago.  One day we were in gym class where the p.e. instructor (our High School basketball coach) was teaching us about foul shooting.   I could barely get the ball to the rim, to say nothing about sinking it.  I noticed that all my friends were making the sign of the cross on their forehead, lips, and chest before shooting.   They told me that it was because of their sign of the cross that they were getting the ball in the hoop.  I decided to try it, sending the coach into gales of laughter.  He knew my family and knew that this was an uncommon practice for me.  It didn’t help either.  I was the king of airballs.

My concern with the Tebow thing is the theology of it all.   If Tim’s prayer to Jesus is for success in his passes and victory for the team what about the other guys?  Does the other team suffer from lack of support from God because they don’t pray before a play?   And if Tim throws an interception, is Jesus telling him that he shouldn’t have sworn or sipped a beer?  (I suspect he doesn’t do either, incidentally.)  

This form of spirituality that Tebow demonstrates is very individualistic and personalized, as if he has the ear of God all to himself … and as if Jesus would really care about who wins an NFL game.  Maybe that’s not the prayer he’s offering, but it sure looks that way to us in the ignorant masses.  I don’t subscribe to that kind of spirituality or faith stance, and I suspect I’m not alone in that.  I’d like to think that God is more concerned with people dying from disease, hunger, and war than the Denver Broncos.

There is no question that Tim Tebow is a good role model for fans.  He is everything that many other sports stars are not.  I’m glad kids are drawn to him and his personality.   But I’m still very confused by the public prayer concept.  Maybe I need to pray about it.

Photo Credit:sacbee.com

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  1. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s equally educative andd entertaining,
    and let me tell you, you’ve hit thhe nail on the head.
    The issue is something whjich nott enough men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy I came across this during my
    hunt for something relatihg to this.

  2. Whatever.

  3. As to your Scripture quoted in the original message, I do believe you’re RI, however tebow gives all glory to God and doesn’t use this for show just because he prays in public, he always lifts God up and gives him praise, never himself.

  4. Appreciate your feedback as well, however there is one point to that response as a Christian I strongly disagree on.not to turn this into a debate but ponder on this. If a Scripture can be taken many ways to people, they should search themselves deep within. The Bible says that a saved person will read and understand the Bible hence understand what the Scripture means. To an unbeliever it may confuse them but that is why God gives salvation to anyone who will just ask him. I personally would not want to steer someone the wrong way and put a doubt in their mind about God., especially in saying tebow should not pray, or dispute the way he does it. We are in the final days until Jesus returns for the saved and I would hate to stand at his feet and explain why I put a thought in someone’s mind about how we should show our love for what he done for us on the cross. God is not the author of confusion., that solely comes from Satan alone.

  5. Thank you, Amber, for your response to my posting about Tim Tebow. You are right in the point that he is a good role model for children (and adults) in the many ways he demonstrates his faith. I’m just not sure his affected public prayer form is the best. I have great respect for his care for people with disabilities and for his generosity for those who oppose him. You’re right that there aren’t many of those in the NFL these days. I’m not always fond of proving a point by quoting scripture, as I recognize that it has the ability to be understood differently by different people. But, in response to your John 3:16 quote, I would refer you to Matthew 6:1-14 which Jesus is said to have invoked just prior to suggesting what we call “the Lord’s Prayer.” I find it instructive. But I do appreciate your response. Thank you.

  6. I believe you do need to pray about it. God is concerned about anything big or small it doesn’t matter what it is but there’s no doubt hrs with tebow. If you are a believer of God you should not question or judge just praise God there’s someone out there who isn’t afraid of what people think. He’s obeying the lord regardless, I would much rather my 5 year old witness him bowed in front of America on one knee humbling himself than watch the actions of other players as God is all we have in this world anymore why not praise him yourself for having a public figure as tebow rather than disagreeing with what he does an even putting that thought into the unbelivers that may not be saved. How are we to know hes not prayeling for that injured player or the players of the other team? Thats between him and God and not for us to judge. For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

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