I didn’t know much about Archie Manning until last week.
I knew his sons, the NFL quarterbacks: Peyton with the Broncos and Eli with the Giants. I had heard that Archie played football as well. But until watching “The Book of Manning,” I didn’t know how prolific Archie’s career was – especially during his days with Ole Miss.
A story from his senior year really impressed me. A college athlete’s senior year is usually a celebration of 4 years’ hard work. In what could have been a tragic end, Archie’s arm was broken during a game against Houston. But Archie didn’t let it be a tragic end: Since it was his left arm that was broken and he threw with his right, he asked to keep playing. They got Archie a cast strong enough to withstand tackles. And so, rather than ending with the low point of an injury, Archie’s college career culminated in the high point of the Gator Bowl against Alabama.
Jesus says that we are supposed to pray with this kind of persistence. Pray like a widow who keeps bothering an unfair judge until she gets fair judgment. “Pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).
But sometimes, we pray and pray and pray… and still, we are faced with loss. What good is all that prayer then?
This is where Archie’s story really reminds me of our prayer life. It’d be a great end to the story if Archie and the boys of Ole Miss won their bowl game against Auburn, broken arm and all. But they didn’t win; they lost, 35 to 28. Archie’s response really impressed me, as he told reporters something along the lines of, “I just feel blessed that I got to end my college career playing with my team in a bowl game.”
As a competitive person, that would not be my natural response. I would have pouted and wondered if it had been worth it to play at all. But Christ has a good way of changing my natural response to a better one.
The more I pray, the more I listen to God. As I listen I am reminded that the God who hears my prayers secured a victory for me – for all of us – on the cross. I am reminded that our God is the Good Judge, who wants what’s fair for everyone – which occasionally means that my prayer is less significant than I thought.
Sometimes persistent prayer leads to victory.
Sometimes persistent prayer leads to loss.
Every time, prayer allows our hearts to be changed by Christ.
So pray and pray and pray. Pray like a widow begging a judge, pray like Archie Manning playing football. Pray and don’t give up.
Wherever you are, pause for a moment and practice right now.