Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Who Is Public Prayer Really For?

Prayer is a powerful thing. I am a Christian woman and I totally BELIEVE in the power of prayer. Matter of fact, during the past year my belief and practice in prayer have been increased; so much so that I joined a prayer group called My Girlfriend's Business.  I along with the women of My Girlfriend's Business wake up each morning to pray collectively for our families, communities, and ourselves between 5:00-6:00am. 

As much as I love and believe in prayer, I am extremely challenged and perplexed by the declarations by my other Christian brothers and sisters that claim the absence of "a state sanctioned prayer" is why the schools are failing. Really? I  want to maintain a balanced perspective around this issue because I know that there are many people that sincerely believe this is the reason, however I do not understand the premise.  Do we really think schools are failing because state sanctioned prayer has been taken out of schools? Is that an emotional response or a spiritual one?

I agree we are certainly in a time in our history that we need MORE love, MORE faith and  MORE prayer. However, I don't fully understand the we need prayer in schools debate? Who is PUBLIC prayer really for in the first place?   
On Monday, former Governor and GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stated "we shouldn't be surprised at the recent school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School" in Newtown, Connecticut. He asserted that somehow this heinous act was tied to the lack of religious expression in public school.  So let me get this right?! Is brother Huckabee suggesting that innocent children were killed because the principal didn't read a pre-scripted state sanctioned prayer over the intercom? 

As Christians, is state sanctioned prayer the real issue that our schools are facing? Praying for our children and schools is always an option with or without being sanctioned by the state.  We can't confuse the issue of having a school sanctioned prayer with our ability to pray for our children and schools because these are two different issues.  Do we think that there is something more holy or more potent in a state sanctioned prayer? Do we think God will hear us better if the state says it's okay?  Do we really want the state dictating our prayers? 

The scriptures clearly states in Matt 5:45 that pain is shared by all and that God allows it "to rain on both the just and unjust".  There are many things that will and have happened that we won't understand; however we can't select the easiest explanation to understand that which can not be understood. Evil is sometimes beyond our understanding. Evil is simply evil.  

As Christians, we are still required to be responsible Christians and base our opinions on God's word. In many ways, I believe we accept the most common political position on issues that we hear in the mainstream media because it doesn't require us to push ourselves to a different level of our faith.    Perhaps the real challenge for us as Christians is to go deeper, pray harder and add works with our faith. I think we are far too complacent, far too easy to pass blame and far too judgmental in our role as Christians.
Have we forgotten the true intention and purpose of prayer? Have we forgotten that God is  omniscient and can always hear what's in a man's heart? Plus, there is no biblical requirement (that I am aware of)  that prayer must be spoken publicly in order to be valid. 

I actually have the audacity to believe that prayer is POWERFUL ENOUGH that it transcends time, place and space.  I often pray for people I've never met, for people in countries that I have never visited and for families located thousands of miles away.  I don't believe I have to be in India, the operating room, the school yard or even the White House for my prayers to be heard. I don't believe the Holy Spirit is limited by my presence in a place(or the lack thereof) The beauty of God is that I believe He is EVERYWHERE! 

It is not my intention to offend anyone with this blog nor diminish the value of prayer.   I would like to continue a dialogue with my Christian brothers and sisters to really examine this notion that the schools are dangerous and failing because "they took prayer out." 

Perhaps prayer isn't what left the public school system but maybe we left the schools. If we were there working to make things better wouldn't prayer be there in some form? Perhaps it is our abuse of how we use and misuse our faith that has partly led to the moral demise of our communities?  Is the prayer debate a scapegoat for our responsibility to take care of others?Does public prayer make us feel more righteous or obedient? Do we think that God will hear us better if people hear us pray aloud too? 

Ironically, there are many references in the bible where Jesus actually withdrew from the public and went in private places to commune and pray to God. 


Let's see what Jesus taught us about public prayer.....

Matthew 5:6 
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."

Matthew 6:1 
"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Matthew 23:5
"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;
Obviously, public prayer was not a requirement for Jesus.  Then why is it a requirement for us?

So my question is   "Who is public prayer really for...????

1 comment:

Kierstinspeaksup said...

Good Question... I would like to think that its to better the mind frame of our kids. I completely agree that there needs to be More love, More Faith and More Prayer but I believe it has to start at home :-) Have a blessed day