Sister Jean is a most unique combination of ‘great-grandma’, cheerleader and chaplain. A spry 98 years old, using a wheel chair for transportation, with a 98-watt smile serving as her headlight, Sister Jean has found her ’15 minutes of fame.’ If you believe if luck, then she is very lucky. If you believe in providence, then God is having fun watching his servant.
Sister Jean serves the Ramblers of Loyola University Chicago, a Catholic research university. This past week, as a part of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Ramblers men’s college basketball team scored an upset over a more highly ranked team (Miami) on a last-second shot. In the joy of the moments following, the courtside reporter for the national television cablecast caught up with Sister Jean on the sideline where she, enthroned on her chariot, received hugs and kisses from the sweaty players, and then gave an interview as to her opinion about why the team won.
“Thank God.” That’s who get the credit, she said. But, what was your prayer before game? “I asked God to help us. I told God we would do our part if he would do his part.” She was not bashful about admitting that she called on God to help give the team the unlikely “W”.
I often think about how to pray about sports, or anything else, for that matter. Should we pray for our team to win? With all of the billions of people in the world; with wars and starvation and injustice all around the globe, could God possibly care about my prayer request? Well, Sister Jean has had 98 years to think about it, and she has concluded God’s ears and mind and heart are big enough to care about the Ramblers and Syria on the same day. And her prayer is profoundly insightful in how it recognizes that the athletes have a part in the outcome. I used to be quite bashful about praying for my teams to win, praying instead for things like ‘safety’ and ‘doing our best.’ From now on, I am using Sister Jean’s prayer.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18