What kind of prayer is appropriate after a game of golf? I had to say thanks at lunch after a women’s golf tournament. Although I was honored to be asked to say thank you, I really wasn’t sure what I should pray for. I decided to explore some literature on golf and the spiritual side of life. I reviewed titles like Fairway to Heaven, In His Grip, and of course Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul. The material in these books was certainly inspiring in nature, but it did not help me decide what to say in my prayer.

An Internet search revealed the fact that Christians have found a surprising number of funny anecdotes about golf. Have you heard the one about Jesus, God and Tiger Woods playing eighteen holes together? It’s pretty funny, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to start my sentence with a joke. People may not be able to stop laughing during the grace.

I considered telling a religious story about a famous golfer. I found out that when Vijay Singh won the Masters, his sister claimed it was because his whole family prayed for victory for a whole day and night. Had none of the other golfer’s relatives prayed for a win? Why did God choose to listen to the requests of the Singhs? He was confused. If I were to tell Vijay’s story at lunch, the other women might be stumped too.

I thought maybe I could share some ideas on how the game of golf can have a positive impact on a person’s life.

Golf gives us the opportunity to be outdoors. The scenic setting inspires a true appreciation of the beauty of God’s creation.

Golf is a way to exercise and build relationships with family and friends. The game of golf can be very therapeutic. A widow once told me that after her husband’s death, going out on the golf course had provided healthy diversion in times when she felt sad and lonely.

Golf is a way to meet new people. I have talked to many interesting strangers that I have associated with on the links. At times, our conversations have even led to discussions about matters of faith. My husband and I were playing golf with two Navy lieutenants at the Olympic View Course in Victoria, British Columbia, one summer afternoon. One of the officials missed a crucial putt and said, “I knew I was going to have to pay at some point for skipping church last Sunday.” It seemed perfectly natural for me to ask, “what church would that be?”

Golf provides an opportunity to affirm and encourage others. I play in a weekly women’s league and my teammates are always very positive. The other women make me believe that my golf game is not impossible. They look for something good in every shot I take and applaud the slightest improvement in my score. I have learned some valuable lessons about the power of affirmation from my golf partners.

Golf can be a way to support a worthy effort. Many organizations sponsor golf events to raise funds. My husband and I frequently participate in tournaments where the proceeds go to charitable causes.

You’re probably already wondering why I finally ended up praying at golf lunch. I decided not to preface my table grace with any comment. I simply asked the women to bow their heads and then I said…
Dear God,
We are grateful for the opportunity we had today to play golf. We are grateful for the exercise it provided our bodies, for the sense of camaraderie we experienced with other golfers, and for the opportunity we had to enjoy the beauty of creation. Open our minds and hearts to the lessons this game can teach us about life… that we shouldn’t give up after a few bad holes, because things will probably get better if we keep trying… that you have to be flexible, if the iron nine doesn’t work, maybe the pitching wedge does… that the lowest handicaps are not necessarily won by women in the latest fashions in golf clothing or the most expensive set of clubs, but by those who work hard at their game with patience and persistence.

Bless every single person here, whether they ended up winning or losing when the scorecards were handed out today, because if we enjoyed the game we played together, we really were all winners. We now ask your blessing on this food.
Amen.

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