|Friends pray with Blake Koch at Texas Motor Speedway|
Photo by Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Before any NASCAR race, fans with a keen eye can spot people praying all over the infield. Crews form prayer circles on pit road, chaplains pray with drivers and their wives beside the cars and some crews even gather for a prayer of thanks when their driver wins.
To my knowledge, NASCAR is the only national sport that pauses to pray during opening ceremonies at televised events. The announcer calls the prayer before the race an invocation. The core word “invoke” means to appeal to God in prayer. Most times, the person delivering the invocation asks God for blessings and safety for drivers, crews and fans.
This week includes the first Thursday in May, designated as the National Day of Prayer. It is an annual event when people unite in prayer for America and racing folks have traditionally played a role. In recent years, drivers Regan Smith and Michael McDowell sported a National Day of Prayer paint scheme on their cars.
Last year, NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip made a one-minute, action-packed video for the National Day of Prayer. Waltrip is a man of faith who believes in the power of prayer. In the video, he said, “Throughout my life, my heart has been changed through prayer. And if it can change one heart, then it can change the heart of a nation.”
There’s a verse in the Bible that calls us to pray together as a nation. The scripture contains a promise from God and is full of hope:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
What does this verse mean? First, we must humble ourselves and seek God’s face. That means we come to God asking forgiveness for anything we’ve done wrong, whether it is in our attitude, words or actions. A repentant heart is critical when we’re praying. It keeps us aware of how small we are and how big God is.
Seeking his face means focusing our hearts on God, trusting Him and truly wanting to do what’s right in His eyes. But the key word is at the beginning: “if.” IF we humbly pray, turn to God and away from evil, THEN He will bless our nation.
The next few months are a critical time for our country. As Americans, we’re all teammates who share in the blessing of freedom, but running this race of life on our knees is the only way to victory. Will you join in the invocation for the nation?
To read this year’s National Prayer, click here.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. ~ Psalm 33:12
donate $25 or more to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go. See you on the frontstretch!
Beth Bence Reinke is the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans, available in paperback or eBook. “Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth also writes “Gibbs Garage,” Sprint Cup race recaps for Joe Gibbs Racing teams. Comments or Twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke.