The Newcastle Knights are sitting at the bottom of the NRL table, having suffered some terrible defeats this season. Yet time and again, players get together and pray before and after games. You may want to shout at them, “Give up!” But their prayers aren’t simply about asking God to help them beat the opposition.
For Knights winger Ken Sio, who started with the club this season, his prayers have been more about trusting in God.
“When I first started [with the Knights] I was wondering ‘What’s going on? What’s going on?’,” Sio admitted to Eternity. “But then I realised that God always has a plan for you.”
“I do pray that I bless others with the talent God has blessed me with.” – Ken Sio
It wasn’t long after Sio’s ‘light bulb moment’ that the Knights strung together three wins in a row this season. This gave the Newcastle boys something to cheer about coming into the final rounds.
But the main request made to God by the huddled Knights players, before and after games, has continued to be that they may reflect Jesus through their example.
“I do pray that I bless others with the talent that He has blessed me with,” said Sio.
“Upholding our faith is probably what keeps us grounded.” – Mickey Paea
Knights chaplain Andrew Kahika, who joins the players in prayer, doesn’t “necessarily think God takes a side.”
“God’s ‘for us’ in every facet of life. I believe he wants us to win not just on the field but in life, in general. So I’m always praying for my guys that they’re winning on the field, that they’re winning off the field, that they’re winning with their kids, with their wives. That’s my biggest prayer for them.”
Knights forward Mickey Paea believes it’s actually the practise of one’s faith that gives players a better perspective, helping them not to put too much emphasis on the ups and downs that come with winning or losing.
“The purpose of prayer is to give thanks…” – Mickey Paea
“Upholding our faith is probably what keeps us grounded. I think it’s important to have a focus outside of your everyday environment,” said Paea.
Despite what the Knights results might suggest, much of the player’s prayer sessions are spent in giving thanks. “The purpose of prayer is to give thanks, honouring God in what he’s given us, the gift and talent,” said Paea. “Make sure we’re giving it back to him. Sometimes it could be used for our own glory, and our own pleasures and success.”
With two rounds remaining, the Knights are still in last place. Tonight they take on Canberra Raiders, and will wear black armbands to honour teen fan Hannah Rye, who died this week due to cancer.
The Knights might be able to avoid the wooden spoon if they win their two last games of the season and the West Tigers lose their two remaining games.