Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2016 prayer produced for football fans' divine guidance

Football fans looking for divine intervention have been offered a saving grace in the form of a Euro 2016 prayer.

The Church of England's prayer asks that teams be "ambassadors for their sport" and calls for "humility in victory, and dignity in defeat".

It includes a reminder to players that "the game isn't everything" and prays for fans to "remain open to friendship" alongside their passion for success.

England are among the first of the 24 teams in action, taking on Russia in Group B on Saturday evening, 24 hours after France open the tournament against Romania.

Wales also play on Saturday, against Slovakia, while Northern Ireland take on Poland the following evening. Republic of Ireland fans will have to wait until Monday to see their team take on Sweden.

Written by Bishop Tony Porter, the Archbishops' Sport Ambassador and Bishop of Sherwood, the prayer can be used by individuals or churches.

Bishop Tony said: "As church and sport unite in prayer, I hope the Euros will be a vehicle for unity, fun and peace. Sport has the capacity to bring people together from all backgrounds, cultures and countries. The Euros have the potential to focus on a gift that can unite and enthuse us.

"Do I want England to win? I would love it. Do I think they will win? Not until we see more English players in the Premier League."

On Sunday, the Church of England will broadcast from St Andrew's Moscow - its first ever live service from overseas on Church Live.

The Chaplain of St Andrew's, Rev Clive Fairclough, said: "We have Russians and England supporters in our congregation. Many of us are joining in with a tournament at the British embassy tomorrow so football fever has struck."

Rev Nick Clarke of St Peter's in Chantilly, near the England camp, recently met Wayne Rooney and Roy Hodgson and attended a squad training session.

Rev Nick said: "I do believe there is a connection between prayer and sport. I am praying that they play with no fear. If they are all tightened up and play with fear, they won't have that creativity, that spark of flair, that imagination.

"I'll be praying that they enjoy the moment, on and off the pitch. Play with exuberance and they will surprise the rest of the tournament, I'm sure."

The parish of St Andrew's Leyland in Lancashire is inviting the whole community to watch the England v Russia match in their church.

Dave Lewis, assistant minister at St Andrew's, has not given up on England's chances in the tournament, saying: "Leicester have just won the Premier League so anything could happen."

The prayer in full reads:

"God our Father, thank you for all your gifts to us, and especially the beautiful game.

"We pray for the teams that in the heat of competition they may be ambassadors for their sport.

"We pray for the players that as they give everything to their cause they remember the game isn't everything, win, lose or draw.

"We pray for the officials for wisdom and clarity, for there to be a respect for authority even in fallibility.

"We pray for the fans that in sharing their passion they remain open to friendship.

"We pray for humility in victory, and dignity in defeat.

"Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

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