You can’t help but feel at least sympathy for Bolton Wanderers player, Fabrice Muamba who collapsed and nearly died as his heart stopped working at Saturday’s FA Cup match. It always comes as a shock when something like this happens to an apparently fit and healthy person.
Since it happened Muamba’s fiancee, Shauna Magunda has been tweeting regularly asking for people to pray for him, including one tweet saying, “God is in control.” This was then plastered over the front page of yesterday’s Sun newspaper. In the evening she posted on Twitter: “All your prayers are working people thank you so so much. Every prayer makes him stronger.”
This call to pray has been picked up in the media, as tends to be the case in these situations, along with the question of whether prayer actually works. For most people this will depend on personal experience. If you believe you’ve seen answer to prayer then the chances are you’re going to believe in its power. On the other hand if you don’t believe there is even a god then chances are you’re going to think it is a waste of time.
Judging by some of the reactions to Shauna Magunda’s tweets, it confirms to me something that I’ve believed for a long time that when people are in a desperate situation, chances are most are going to offer up some sort of prayer even if they don’t know who they’re actually praying to.
Why is this?
I don’t want to go into a long theological discourse over this, but the Bible talks about us being made in God’s image and Paul in Romans talks about God’s invisible qualities being clearly revealed to all of us through His creation. Most of us are very good at surrounding ourselves with physical stuff and relationships that allow us to function without God being part of our lives if we so choose. However, when we find ourselves in situations where these aren’t going to help us then our vulnerablility as humans is exposed and our souls that we usually do so well at suppressing cry out in anguish. Our hearts cry out to their maker.
This is the problem with any worldview that denies a spiritual element to our lives. It’s never going to succeed because belief is too engrained in our human nature. We might disagree violently on which god is the real god and how we should follow him, but to try and convince people that God doesn’t exist through argument and reasoning is never going to win many converts. If you look at any political regime where religious belief is suppressed and persecuted, the consequence will be the opposite effect of increasing belief because people see how futile life without a spiritual element is.
When we look at the advance of secularism in our society, you might get the impression that religion has had its day. The editors at the Sun know better though. They know that they’ll get more readers if they talk about God than if they don’t. Talking about God still sells papers because for the majority, even if they don’t know what they believe, there is still the hope that there is a God who cares.
We should pray that Fabrice Muamba is healed, not because it will make good headlines, but because if we deny that God can intervene in our lives it lessens us as humans. There is a good chance that for Fabrice Muamba this is probably the only hope he has left.