Read a Cornhuskers Excerpt

Read a Cornhuskers Excerpt

Read Luke 18:1-8.

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (v. 1). ).

Neil Smith knew that prayer had a lot to do with his playing football for Nebraska.

Smith was an All-American defensive tackle in 1987 and was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

That Smith would play major-college football at all was pretty much a long shot. Born and raised in New Orleans, as he put it, “I wasn’t a blue-chipper at all, but I ran around and made some plays” in high school. He had no scholarship offers at all.

Until Nebraska showed up. The Huskers were looking at the team’s quarterback, and they kept noticing Smith. Assistant coach Jack Pierce called Smith and told him, “You keep showing up in the picture when we are looking at [the quarterback], and we like what we see.”

But there was a big-time problem. The Huskers had only one scholarship left to give, and they had promised it to a blue-chip offensive lineman who was deciding between Nebraska and Oklahoma. So Pierce offered Smith a chance to walk on. Without that scholarship, though, Smith could never attend Nebraska.

His mother worked two jobs to raise three children. He had grown up in a housing project until their home was broken into and they moved. They simply could not afford to pay for college. So, Smith said, “It wasn’t looking good for me.” But Smith’s mother prayed ceaselessly for more than a month, asking God for that final scholarship. A few days before signing day, the offensive lineman decided for Oklahoma. “By the grace of God,” Smith said, he was headed to Nebraska. His mama “always knew that scholarship would be mine.”

Neil Smith’s mama prayed and didn’t give up. That’s what Jesus taught us to do, always pray and never give up. Any problems we may have with prayer and its results derive from our side, not God’s. We pray for a while about something – perhaps fervently at first — but our enthusiasm wanes if we don’t receive the answer we want exactly when we want it. Why waste our time by asking for the same thing over and over again?

But God isn’t deaf; God does hear our prayers, and God does respond to them. As Jesus clearly taught, our prayers have an impact because they turn the power of Almighty God loose in this world. Thus, falling to our knees and praying to God is not a sign of weakness and helplessness. Rather, praying for someone or something is an aggressive act, an intentional ministry, a conscious and fervent attempt on our part to change someone’s life or the world for the better.

God responds to our prayers; we often just can’t perceive or don’t understand how he is working to make those prayers come about.

It was a miracle that by the grace of God I was able to play football at one of the greatest universities in the land. — Neil Smith on having his mama’s prayers answered

Jesus taught us to always pray and never give up.

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