I wanted to take a quick break from a Baseball Guy’s Bible Guide to talk about the movement of the Around the Mound prayer in the state of Colorado. In the early days of “Around the Mound,” most of the prayer happening around pitcher’s mounds in the state came from our program at Valor Christian and a couple of other private schools. We now see private school teams, public school teams, youth teams, softball teams, and programs outside of the state engaging in a postgame prayer “Around the Mound” as well. The thirst for God’s goodness on the baseball field is apparent in the area and He will continue to quench our thirst with His living water.
One of my favorite TED talks is titled “How to Start a Movement” by Derek Sivers. Take three minutes to watch it by clicking the link, if you’ve never seen the talk. We’ve seen “Around the Mound” move from our postgame program prayer to people with a direct connection to us praying with their team to people we’ve never met before praying with their teams. It’s amazing how a couple guys “dancing” can create the desire in many others to dance with them (check out the video to understand the reference).
At the end of the day, the goal of this movement is simple. We want people to understand that the game of baseball can be an expression of worship to our Lord, and to join the brotherhood of players locally and nationwide who desire to connect with God through the context of the game of baseball. The style doesn’t matter. Arms around each other, on a knee holding hands, standing up holding hands - there are no rules here. Legalism would tell us to all do it one way, but a heart for spreading the Gospel of Jesus couldn’t care less. The prayer is what matters. We have the same God, we desire that every baseball player comes to know life in Jesus, and connect with this brotherhood of ballplayers.
One of the hard parts of inviting the other team to pray with you is being turned down by the other coach or by some of the players who choose not to join in. Maybe they’re too tough, too angry, or don’t experience joy in what they do on the field the way we do. We’ve had players decline by flat out saying, “God’s not real.” We have to keep walking our walk, loving those coaches and players, and continue to invite them into relationship with us, with God, and with the greater purposes of the game. We don’t know if they’ve been hurt by religion or religious people, and we must act as the father from the story of the prodigal son inviting them with open arms when they do choose to engage.
“Around the Mound” prayer has, and will continue, to face resistance. If you’re in a public school like the coaches pictured above, make sure that the prayer and the movement to pray after the game is led by a player or group of players. You might stand outside the circle. You might pray on your own in the dugout. Be wise. While the law of the land could come down on you, remember Paul’s words from Galatians 5:22-23: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Let the fruit of the Holy Spirit exude from you in your coaching and leadership!
It’s been amazing to watch players, coaches, and parents in the Colorado baseball community come around this movement of praying “Around the Mound.” I hope people continue to recognize that this game can be taken from us at any moment and that our identity must be firmly rooted in that which is eternal. If you’re interested in learning more about “Around the Mound” prayer and how to do this with your team, click this link: https://completegameministries.org/aroundthemound. May the rest of the spring season be a blessing to you as we all begin to turn our focus to summer!