Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Monday, 24 May 2010 11:05 UK

Bishop of Croydon calls on God for World Cup help

England fans look dejected after England's 2006 World Cup quarter final match against Portugal, which they lost on penalties.
England's prayers were not answered in the 2006 penalties against Portugal

Many England fans know months of training, silky skills and a confident manager may be no guarantee of success at the World Cup in three weeks' time.

But now a little help from above may be at hand, thanks to a series of prayers written by the Bishop of Croydon, the Right Reverend Nick Baines.

The first hopes fans will find the tournament a "source of celebration".

Another, written for those with no interest in the game, asks that they may be granted "the gift of sympathy".

The Church of England's Bishop Baines, a Liverpool fan, said everyone would be affected by the World Cup so it made sense to have some suitable prayers.

The first calls for all who work and play in the tournament to be guided, guarded and protected.

This isn't just about football; it's about the rainbow nations of the world celebrating together with the people of South Africa
Bishop of Croydon

In his second, Bishop Baines asks God to smile on the host country, South Africa, and all those who travel to "join in the party".

The final one is for those who may not be watching, but may need to show family, friends and colleagues understanding and patience over the coming weeks and possibly sympathy if their team is knocked out.

The bishop said: "More than half the population pray at some time and everyone will be affected by the World Cup in one way or another, so it makes sense to have some prayers for those that want to use them.

'Generous sportsmanship'

"This isn't just about football; it's about the rainbow nations of the world celebrating together with the people of South Africa."

During past World Cups, there have been prayers for David Beckham's broken metatarsal to heal and for God to "lift up his hand and confound the might of Ronaldo and Rivaldo".

The three latest prayers are:

• Lord of all the nations, who played the cosmos into being, guide, guard and protect all who work or play in the World Cup.

May all find in this competition a source of celebration, an experience of common humanity and a growing attitude of generous sportsmanship to others. Amen.

• God of the nations, who has always called his people to be a blessing for the world, bless all who take part in the World Cup.

Smile on South Africa in her hosting, on the nations represented in competition and on those who travel to join in the party. Amen.

• 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. Amen.

Bishop Baines, who was appointed to his post in 2003, said he wrote them for personal use or for church services.

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