I’ve heard folk critical of sportsmen and women for mentioning God or prayer in connection to their sport. Notable among them, in my mind, is Peter Fitzsimons. And there’s a good point to be made – sometimes (‘God wants him to score more goals than the other guy? Why?’)
The criticism doesn’t apply universally, though. (Incidentally, isn’t this one of the odd features of current atheist tirades? Pick the weirdest practice or thought, then write off all practice or thought about God.)
I came across a good prayer example here. The pro cyclist is João Correia. I’ve never heard of him! His team is Cervélo TestTeam. I’ve certainly heard of them – and anyone with a spare Cervélo to give away can store it at my place.
This is what João wrote:
I’m one of those riders who, before a race, says a little prayer. I don’t ask for a victory, since it seems to me not only a little trivial, but as if I imagine God for some reason likes me more than the other competitors and wants me to win. Usually I just say, “Please let me finish this race safely and not crash.” My prayer wasn’t answered.
Humble in prayer, remembering what is important, and not thinking prayer is a magical incantation to guarantee an outcome. Good stuff.