On Track Newsletter
Pre-Race Prayer ... with Purpose
- David Martin -
Providing the invocation before a race is a great privilege, not to be taken lightly. Its purpose is not for entertainment and cheers, but to invoke the blessings of God and an opportunity to lift up Christ before all men. As chaplains, our aim should be to gain an audience with a holy and righteous God and entreat His divine attention.
As the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus provided them (and us) with a model to approach the throne of a holy God. While the prayer was indeed a model, not something we necessarily have to repeat word for word, it did demonstrate a reverence and respectful approach to our heavenly Father. In fact, last year as Howard Brammer provided the invocation for the Brickyard 400, he prayed this model prayer given by Jesus. In my opinion, it was one of the best invocations ever uttered at a track.
Howard Brammer is the Pastor Emeritus of Trader's Point Christian Church in Indianapolis. Howard has provided the invocation at every Brickyard 400 race at IMS. A few years ago, Howard Brammer and I were sitting in the lobby of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just before a meeting with speedway staff. As we talked about the invocations, he made a comment that made a huge impact on me. He said, "The greatest thing about wording the invocation is that I get to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord to a worldwide audience."
It is always an honor to be asked to provide the invocation at race events, whether for a local track, traveling series or perhaps NASCAR. While there is no magical prayer or special formula for an invocation, there is a purpose. If the focus of the pre-race prayer is on the one saying the prayer, rather than the One to whom the prayer is offered . perhaps, we should reconsider our purpose. If the focus of the pre-race prayer is to entertain the crowds and gather cheers . perhaps, we should reconsider our purpose. If the focus of the pre-race prayer is based upon a movie, which makes a mockery of the Lord Jesus Christ . perhaps, we should reconsider our purpose. When given a mere 25 seconds to come before the throne of a holy God with a worldwide audience . perhaps, we should reconsider our purpose.
The privilege of providing an invocation is not an opportunity to be squandered, but a stewardship to be embraced. None of us has arrived concerning the matter of prayer. We have much to learn, oh but what a grand privilege! While our prayers do not need to be "cookie cutter" type utterances, let us focus on the One to whom we are praying . let Him be our audience. Let us not allow idle words to fill the air and miss the opportunity to lift up the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray with Purpose!
- David Martin serves as the Lead Chaplain for the Champion Racing Association and USA Modified Series; Assistant Director and Chairman for the National Fellowship of Raceway Ministries; Director of On Track Ministries and Indianapolis Raceway Ministries.