Some people have been surprised at the response from many players and football staff, football fans and members of the public who have expressed their concern for Fabrice and said that they are praying for his recovery. I guess part of the surprise is that many of those praying would not have necessarily described themselves as religious and yet they were praying. I’m not surprised. In my ministry I’ve met lots of people who at times when they have felt deep concern for another in need have turned to prayer. I’m not bothered either. God longs to hear our prayers and those of us who are committed Christians are often put to shame by the paucity of our prayers when compared with the prayers of others who wouldn’t necessarily describe themselves as Christians.
A few weeks ago Richard Dawkins trumpeted the results of research which he argued showed that people weren’t as religious as they might claim. The full title of the survey was to find ‘the extent to which adults recorded as Christian in the 2011 UK Census (or who would have been recorded as Christian, if they had answered the question) believe, know about, practise and are influenced by Christianity, as well as their reasons for having described themselves as Christian in the Census’. Here’s a quote from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science press release:
UK residents who think of themselves as Christian show very low levels of Christian belief and practice, according to new research…May I suggest another piece of research for Dawkins and his foundation. How about a survey of the extent to which people who wouldn’t describe themselves as Christian or religious, nevertheless participate in religious practices including prayer? I think the results may be quite telling if the responses to Fabrice Muamba’s medical condition are anything to go by.
Indeed, many Christian practices, including regular reading of the Bible and prayer outside church services, appear to be unsupported amongst respondents self-identifying as Christian.
Dawkins appeared in a debate with the Archbishop of Canterbury (yes, Rowan is still Archbishop until then end of the year) on the subject of the nature and origins of human beings. At one point late in the debate a member of the audience raised a question about the problem of suffering. Dawkins’ response was to say that ‘stuff happens’ in a rather fatalistic and resigned manner. My response would be to say that ‘prayer happens’ and it seems that many share that response.
Anyway, I thank God for the skill and dedication of all those who have been and still are involved in treating and caring for Fabrice Muamba and I, like many others, continue to pray for him and his family.