Penalties in the Sport of Prayer

Bringing Penalties to the Team

When We Pray With Others – Part 6

There are penalties when it comes to any game. Penalties occur when you do something wrong. These penalties will set you back. In the game of football, one of those wrong actions is like being offsides, lining up offsides, or lining up inappropriately. The actions are against the rules because they would give your team an unfair advantage in a game that you should not have. If you step outside the boundaries (out-of-bounds) or if you jump offsides in football, it costs the team. What are some of the penalties as it relates to prayer that will cost the team?

In prayer, there are some penalties and since we don’t have them all, we offer a few we have to get you going and to consider. We should know what actions will give the team a penalty and jeopardize our chances of winning in prayer.

Out of Order
When you are praying together as a team, being out of order means you have done something that is uncharacteristic of the team. Many times we don’t think about our actions as being out of order. Not knowing and not observing the rules of the game is a selfish attitude that can cause us to do something that is out of order. To be in order means there is an order. It also means you must get in line with what the team does, what the game dictates, and the rules that surround playing together, in this case praying together.

For example, one of the ways we can be out of order could be as simple as praying in what we call tongues or in your Heavenly language. When this action isn’t a part of the team’s culture, doing so is out of order and will result in a penalty. It will set the team back.

Dominating the Field of Play/Pray
Dominating the field of play, in this case, the field to pray, means a person is going to make sure that you don’t get a chance to play. This behavior creates a lack of participation in a team environment. The game is for the team to play to their best, not just one individual. If we’re all playing at our best that gives everyone an opportunity to help the team be successful. One person dominating the field of play prohibits everyone’s success.

A person who showboats displays an attitude that his or her skills are much greater than those of everyone else. Showboating will cause us to minimize the need for other members on the team. It says to the team that you’re not needed. Keep in mind that the reason for the team is because every player is needed, so that even the show-boater can be successful. On every team, there’s always a person who stands out, who is exceptional, and has exceptional skills. However, without the other players playing their positions, this skilled athlete’s efforts are reduced and can be minimized. Therefore showboating not only sets the other players back, but everyone back.

Lack of Preparation
As a team we can expect a loss of downs if we can’t grow together. If everyone is not prepared, growing, improving, and moving in the same direction, penalties are inevitable. When two people are coupled together, if one of them grows while the other does not, it not only creates an imbalance, but a divide between the two. The same is true for people on a team. If all the players have worked all year to be very good in their positions, and a person shows up who has not practiced, who has not rehearsed, and who has not grown in their skills that person becomes a detractor to the group. It causes the whole team to be set back, penalized.

Devaluing the Team
We devalue the team when we don’t show up and when we’re not fully present. Whether that is not being present for practice or game day. When we don’t show up to play, that penalizes the team. It says that the team is not important to you.

Showing up on time is one thing, but showing up with energy and excitement is another. There’s a book that I often refer to called “The Power of Full Engagement.” It says be present in every moment. Be present when you’re in a particular event, be present with your family, be present in the moment, be present with a team, be present at practice, be present even in prayer. Be fully engaged. When you’re not fully engaged, it devalues the activity that you’re participating in. Therefore, we must be fully engaged in order to keep the team from being penalized.

Lack of Conditioning
Not conditioning can make sure your performance doesn’t measure up to the team’s performance. When you don’t condition yourself, what ends up happening is a deteriorating performance. You begin performing at a lesser level. You assume that you have it all together. In society it’s often referenced this way. “Use it or lose it.”

What a person who lacks conditioning fails to understand is this. There’s always room to be sharpened, improved, and get better. The truth of the matter is as your team gets better, and you stop getting better, your team will surpass your ability to perform. You do not want to be in a situation where you are underperforming and your team is performing better without you than with you. We see this often in marriages where one spouse may begin to outgrow the other. It is not that they grew to be incompatible, but rather one member of the team started to grow while the other one started to deteriorate or stop growing. They stunted their growth and so one was improving while the other wasn’t. When this happens it penalizes the team where the team is performing better and a member of the team is underperforming.

Disrespect for One’s Team
Disrespect for one’s team may occur when a player thinks too highly of himself or herself than they should. By the way, that’s normal behavior and it take an uncommon practice to think of oneself soberly. [1]

A person who doesn’t take the team seriously shows disrespect in a number of ways which include, not suiting up for the game, not dressing out for practice, not following dress code, not being ready for practice, and not being ready for the game. A person who wishes to take the field without following the team’s rules is a person who disrespect the team. I recall a time when we were helping condition our daughter’s volleyball team. One of the rules we implemented was on a serve when the ball doesn’t clear the net, stop and run a lap around the gym. One member of the team refused and the team responded in a unified voice, so to speak, against this teammate who disrespected the team. Such action penalizes the team because the team lost a little respect for this star athlete. That’s a penalty that hurts the team.

In order to avoid these unnecessary penalties, we must make sure that we’re doing everything with the team in mind. We watch out for penalties so that our team is operating at its best capacity. The goal of a team is to minimize the amount of penalties, the amount of setbacks, so that we can easily move down the field with precision, discipline, excitement, skill, compassion, and become the champions we were created to be. The same is true when we pray together. This is what I call next level prayer.

Question: How can we reduce the number of penalties that keep us from being successful in prayer?

[1] ‭‭Romans 12:3 NLT,, accessed November 18, 2022,

All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.

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