Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Tuesday 20 April |
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

What do sports and prayer have in common?

GoreTex Products CC

Charles Rouvier - published on 03/04/17

Much more than you might think

Sports is for our physical life what prayer is for our spiritual life. Fresh air, sweat and sun bring us into a certain communion with creation. The body is submitted to a rhythmic discipline. Like the animals, the body confronts and overcomes cold, rain and wind, and participates in the movement of nature.

Prayer is itself a uniting with the perpetual praise, the constant homage that nature gives to God, its author and creator. The Greeks intuited this connection, and the Olympics were a sacred ceremony in honor of the gods.

GoreTex Products CC

Bettering ourselves

Sports is unique in that its fundamental and almost exclusive goal is to refine the body. With endless possibilities, the benefits sport brings are manifold: resistance, will power, speed. And these benefits redound to other activities, physical activities, of course, but also intellectual. Everything is made easier when the body is prepared to respond to demands.

In the same way, prayer is an intellectual activity that is fundamentally directed to improving the “spiritual capacity” of the one who prays, that is, to increasing love. In fact, when we read great literature, hear masterful music or contemplate the beauty of fine art, the spirit is called upward and elevated … but it is “distracted” by the trappings, so to speak, the works of the artist, and not the artist himself. In prayer, on the other hand, one is turned directly to God, the Highest and Greatest, and the effects of this communion filter down to the material world.

GoreTex Products CC

Basic training

Exercise, from the Latin exercitus, is etymologically related to the word for soldiers and training. The Romans were encouraged to be fit, ever at the ready to lead a troop to combat. This is reflected in Cicero’s criticism of the corrupt government of Gaius Verres: that he was carried on a seat for his morning exercise, showing forth his decadent and hedonist character.

A Christian is also a soldier. A soldier who should be ever prepared to engage when a spiritual battle presents itself. He must be even more on guard than the Roman soldier, at the ready for when a conversation with friends turns to gossip, when a blasphemy is used as an insult, when a searching soul asks for an answer, and above all when doubt and temptation assault one’s own soul.

One who fails to pray is like the decadent Verres, taking for granted the riches of his Baptism, but losing them for lack of attention and care.

DVIDSHUB Seaman Blake Midnight CC

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Top 10
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
Philip Kosloski
5 Fascinating facts about Jesus in the Eucharist
Philip Kosloski
5 Essential things used at Mass and their symbolism
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
Cerith Gardiner
7 Joys to be had from a lengthy marriage
Brett Salkeld
How to vaccinate like a Catholic
Cerith Gardiner
The lasting lesson from the late Prince Philip
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.