Athlete, Pray and Play


Athlete, Pray and Play

Joel Pfahler

Psalm 92:1 (ESV)

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to Your name, O Most High.

Psalm 92 is titled “A Song for the Sabbath.” 

The Sabbath is not simply a day off from work. It is a day dedicated to worship, which Psalm 92 illustrates. Eugene Peterson, in his book “Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity,“ says that Sabbath worship involves both praying and playing. He cites the Jerusalem Bible translation of Psalm 92:1:

It is good to give thanks to Yahweh,

To play in honor of Your name, Most High. (emphasis added)

While the metaphor in the Psalm is musical, Peterson suggests that “playing” is not limited to music. Praying and playing are both life-giving and renewing. They both “counter boredom, reduce anxieties … prod us into the fullness of our humanity by getting body and spirit in touch and friendly with each other.”

Make space to pray and play. Peterson writes, “Puritan sabbaths that eliminated play were a disaster. Secular sabbaths that eliminate prayer are worse. Sabbath-keeping involves both playing and praying.”

Think of the Sabbath as time set apart. Peterson defines Sabbath as “uncluttered time and space to distance ourselves from the frenzy of our own activities so we can see what God has been and is doing.”

Instead of it being a day in which certain activities are not allowed, think of it as part of your weekly rhythm. Peterson defines Sabbath-keeping as “quieting the internal noise so we hear the still small voice of our Lord.”

Sabbath is about worship. As Peterson says, “praying and playing” in Jesus’ name. 

Worship is not limited to singing songs inside the church building. While corporate worship and Christian fellowship should be a priority for Christ followers, God gifts people uniquely for His glory. Athletes can worship God through their sport!

Consider what kind of “play” is life-giving for you, and enjoy God’s presence through it.


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