During the 2023 AFL season, members of my family travelled to Kardinia Park to see the home team, the Geelong Cats, play our team, the Port Power. Please, don’t ask me about the result!
Inside the ground, we spotted a building the size of a shipping container decorated with a large image of Kardinia Park and the words “Prayer Space”. I was so intrigued I took a closer look.
It appears the small room was available for construction workers building a new grandstand who wanted to fulfil their obligation, and/or their desire, to pray during the day. In hindsight, I should have popped in and prayed for some divine intervention for our team’s success! With some further research, I also discovered something similar at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, called the “Multi-Faith Prayer Room”.
In my mind’s eye, I could see footy players in their training gear and workers in their high-vis jackets and overalls, peeling off their dirty work boots and entering these sacred spaces to spend time with God – be they Muslim, Jew, Christian or of another faith. I wondered, were these workers, or football players, ostracised for taking time out to pray? Did they see themselves as witnesses to the faith they proclaimed?
This got me thinking. For many of us, the act of praying is often relegated to private places where no one will see us. Or it’s confined to the one or two hours spent in a church building on Sundays. But there are obviously enough people who want dedicated spaces in public places to demand easy access for somewhere to pray during the busyness of their days.
As you think about your prayer life, do you see it being integrated into all facets of your life? How comfortable would you feel about friends, family or workmates “seeing you” taking time out to pray? What’s your reaction to seeing sport’s people publicly acknowledge their faith in God, for example, before the start of a match or when they score a goal or win a game? Do you consider them a bit silly or naïve, or does it challenge you about your own public declaration of faith?
What I love about the Catholic faith is our belief that God is always available to hear our prayers. Whether we are at work or play, in good times or bad, let us embrace the many opportunities that come our way to converse with God in prayer.
Becoming Catholic: Talking with God
The Liturgy of the Hours is one way Catholics can integrate prayer into their daily lives. Listen to a short podcast on Evangelise Plus: Hearing God’s Call.
Evangelise Plus: The Church and Sport (video series)
Giving the best of yourself: A document on the Christian perspective on sport and the human person (Vatican, 2018)
Words: Sharon Brewer