St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Adam Wainwright was in the news this week but it wasn't on the sports pages. Wainwright was the featured speaker at the annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast in Jefferson City where he told the crowd about the power of prayer.
It's all too common for sports figures to thank God when they perform well. In fact, it's so common that it is almost a cliche.
But Wainwright's message was much different and much more powerful. The star pitcher - who ended third in the Cy Young voting this past year - said he prays regularly when he takes the mound to pitch.
Wainwright doesn't pray for victory as you might expect. "I pray that He would only allow me to win if I didn't use it in an egotistical way." Now that's a prayer! Wainwright says he prays for strength, not just success.
Perhaps it's the troubling times we're in but the subject of prayer is gaining momentum. For several years now there has been this brewing notion that much of our troubles started when the federal government decided to take a stronger approach on the subject of prayer in schools and other public gatherings. I don't know if that is true but I certainly can see the argument.
In some odd ways, the Internet has also stirred focus on prayer. Not a day goes by that I don't receive some message of hope through prayer that I am asked to pass along. I'll admit that I personally rarely pass these messages along but that doesn't diminish the reason behind the prayer request.
The "praying community" also became a subject of campaign fodder this past year when President-to-be Obama made a swipe at rural folk who cling to their prayer and their guns. Those callous remarks did not endear the candidate to many of us. And our memories are long.
I'm glad that Wainwright was confident enough to wear his religious beliefs on the sleeve and share his views in public. It's refreshing to know where this star athlete turns in time of need.
In some ways, I suspect that prayer - or the lack thereof - may creep back into the national political discussion. And I hope it does.
Today's world is frightening in so many ways and though it may well take more than simple prayers to change this nation and the world, it's not a bad starting point.