This week marks the 65th year of the National Day of Prayer. On Thursday Christians all across the country will meet at religious organizations, schools, businesses, and court houses to lift up their voices in prayer together, in a show of solidarity to Jesus Christ. I’m writing this post to address some thoughts and ideas that I’ve had for most of my life about the National Day of Prayer. As a Christian I feel that it is important that I strive to follow guidance of the word. Let it be known that I have no doubt that the practice of meeting for prayer is done with only good intentions to promote unity within the body of Christ. However, there are a few issues with the practice that I would like to address.
In Matthew the 6th chapter we learn:
Giving to the Needy
1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
5“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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
There have been times that I’ve dropped my children off at school to see many children spilling into the street around the flag pole to pray. This scripture pops into my mind, and it makes me sad for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that those children are praying with the utmost fervor, and that Christ knows their hearts. That being said, I wonder how many of them have read Matthew the 6th chapter… I also wonder if they had learned of what the bible says about prayer, if they would feel as good about being seen while praying on a street corner.
My main thoughts on this topic will be in regard to the National Day of Prayer being practiced at schools.
Why isn’t anything good that is done in the name of Christ? While I’m not about to begin handing out judgement for what others do to promote the gospel, I do think it’s important to stand up for those who might be put in difficult positions due to the lack of acknowledgment of the Word. For example, I have had the personal experience of watching children (elementary school age) not participate in the activity of prayer at school for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons deal with the fact that the children’s parents are striving to teach their children what the Bible says in regard to prayer. Other children might not be believers, or have parents who are not believers. Further still are children who practice religions other than Christianity. Thursday morning can be a hard day for those kids. The child that doesn’t participate in the morning prayer service may be at an increased risk of being bullied that day. While well meaning peers will be inspired to help those that they feel aren’t following Christ, those who are just trying to get through a difficult day may be even more vulnerable. Children who are seeking to obey their parents may feel an increased level of stress and pull between peers and parents. Children who have parents who are atheist may feel that they are being excluded in the name of religion, and those who practice differing faiths may be saddened by the lack of national support for their beliefs. No matter what your views are on public prayer, do the benefits really outweigh the risks for these children?
Prayer is a gift that has been given to Christians to thank God, ask for comfort,guidance, and repentance. I would never discourage anyone from prayer. It is important, though, that as Christians we carefully examine our actions as well as what we teach our children about what the Word says about everything, including prayer. “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)
While current laws do not prevent student led prayer from occurring on school grounds, schools do have the ability to limit the amount of public prayer on the grounds. Christian parents, encourage your children to read Matthew the 6th chapter before Thursday morning. Also, encourage children that if they feel they must participate at school in the National day of Prayer service, to be especially respectful and mindful of those students that are not participating for whatever reason. What would happen if we encouraged prayer to take place in homes and churches? I am convinced that our churches and homes would have more visitors if religious activities weren’t happening in ways that made current unbelievers uncomfortable.
This Thursday I will not be participating in an organized service for public prayer. Thursday morning will start as every other morning of the year does, with a prayer for God to use me in whatever way He sees fit. In addition to that, this Thursday I will send up a special prayer for those who will face persecution and bullying in the name of Christ for their lack of compliance with what our society is promoting as Christianity. It is my HOPE that eventually we can have a National day of Hope, Faith, and Charity. Where Christians might organize ways to do the work that Jesus instructed we do in how we Love the least of us. Matthew 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Thanks for reading! Love and hugs!