In January, Sports Illustrated published an article about one of the most time-honored facts in all of sports: The home-field advantage. Every sports fan knows that his home team is more likely to win a game in their own stadium, rink, or court than on the road. But why is that? The authors put this question to some serious scientific research, and their answer was surprising. The home field advantage has nothing to do with athletic performance. Pitchers don't throw harder in front of their own screaming fans, and basketball teams don't shoot a higher percentage, no matter how much we may encourage them. It also doesn't have to do with being comfortable in familiar surroundings, or with the visiting team being tired from the rigors of travel or intimidated by the roar of a hostile crowd. The only demonstrable factor they could find was the referees. They were able to scientifically prove that officials tended to side with the home team more often in close calls. They presumed this was because the officials didn't like to be booed, and so they would unconsciously choose the go with the home team if the call was close.
Is God like a referee? Can we influence His "calls" by praying persistently and passionately? This Sunday, we'll take a look at Mark 11:5-8, a parable which Jesus told in order to encourage us to pray. For comparison's sake, you might also look at Mark 18:1-8, which tells a very different story with the same point. Meanwhile, I was involved in an interesting online discussion that you might want to read. I posted the following question on my facebook page this week: "Why do people stop praying?" I received 30 responses, all of which were very insightful and thought-provoking. Take a look here.