World Cup 2014: Who says England haven’t got a prayer?

 

If 4-4-2 formations, solid defending and plenty of penalty practice aren’t working for England’s footballers, there is always prayer. Or perhaps not.

When asked to devise a prayer for England success in the World Cup, the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, could manage just two despairing words:  “Oh God...”

His offering is the bleakest of a series of football-related prayers released by the Church of England ahead of the team’s opening World Cup match against Italy tonight.

Apparently acknowledging that England winning the tournament might be a miracle too far, Bishop Baines said: “I know some have suggested it might take too much of a miracle for England to win the World Cup. My hope is that the World Cup would be a reminder of the joy of a nation coming together in a common cause. That in itself is worth celebrating.”

The bishop, a Liverpool fan, has also provided prayers for the tournament, and for the host nation, Brazil.

He eventually came up with a marginally more upbeat, alternative prayer for the England team, which reads: “God, who played the cosmos into being, please help England rediscover their legs, their eyes and their hunger: that they might run more clearly, pass more nearly and enjoy the game more dearly.”

For those who can’t stand football, Bishop Baines has suggested they ask the Almighty: “Lord, as all around are gripped with World Cup fever, bless us with understanding, strengthen us with patience and grant us the gift of sympathy if needed.”

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