How to Pray as the “Away Team”

Dear Friends,

In sports, the home team has lots of advantages. The stands are filled with people who cheer you on and boo the away team. When the away team has the ball or is at bat, the fans try to distract them, or drown them out. Usually the home team has some tactical advantages like getting the right to be the last team to make substitutions or to bat last. The home team is at home, so they have other advantages as well. They know the field or the ice, the wind or the boards. The home team players get to sleep in their own beds and go to their familiar places where people encourage them and pump them up.

If you are Christian today in Canada, you are on the away team. I will probably do an occasional series of blogs on what it means to be on the away team in Canada, but for today, how do we pray for the government in Canada when we are the away team?

First, do not pray for Christians to become the home team again. Now, for those who read my blog regularly you will know that in a recent blog I told people to pray honestly for what is on their hearts. God is big enough to say no. So am I contradicting myself? I don’t think so. If you in fact do want gospel churches to be the home team, God knows, so you should pray honestly. However, I think it is unwise to long to be the home team again. If you think about it, the bible does not teach that real Christians should become the home team. In fact, I cannot think of a single bible text which says that Christians should be the dominate group in the culture or government. It is wiser that we prayer for people to come to saving faith and then grow into Christ-like maturity. It is wiser to pray that Christians will learn how to be in the culture and government, but not of it. And it seems wiser to pray that more and more local churches will be raised up that are Gospel-based, Gospel-shaped, Gospel-sharing.

Second, we are to pray for our government, our city, our country. The bible commands us to do this.  Among other places, 1 Timothy 2:1-3. It is important to remember that when this text was written the emperor was the infamous Nero. So we should never think, “Because we are not the home team, we will withdraw and not pray”. We need to pray for those in authority when we are the away team.

Third, as the away team we need to pray for the prosperity of our city and our nation. Read Jeremiah 29:5-7. The prophet tells God’s people, who are in exile in Babylon – in other words the away team in a big way – to live, build, marry, produce, multiply while in exile, and “… to seek the welfare of the city where I’ve sent you into exile and to pray to the Lord on its behalf…”

Fourth, pray for our country with thanksgiving. Do not give thanks for what is evil in our culture but there is much that is good and beautiful. Give thanks for prosperity, clean water, the rule of law, democracy, freedom to worship and witness – I will not say more, you get the idea. On this thanksgiving weekend, pray with thanksgiving for Canada and pray with thanksgiving that you are on the Lord’s team, the away team.