Praying for a Conflict

March 28, 2006

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding prayers lately. From the Air Force to the Indiana Congress. Now more battles over praying are starting. Controversy is brewing over a new Navy policy encouraging chaplains to use "nonsectarian" language in prayers. Some argue that such a policy could mean chaplains should not say the name of Jesus in their prayers. The new policy has quickly been attacked.

Another prayer controversy has erupted in Virginia after a Rabbi was asked to edit a prayer before giving it for the state's Senate. The Rabbi had planned to say in his prayer that Hamas has "blood-stained hands."

Both of these conflicts—as well as the previous ones over prayer—seem to miss the whole point Jesus was attempting to make in Matthew 6:5-8. He taught us:

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. But 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. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Ironically some Pharisee probably said Jesus was starting a war on religion. Prayer was never meant to be a public witnessing tool. It was and is simply for us to draw closer to God. Is it really worth polarizing society and perhaps alienating non-Christians? In our fight to say the name of Jesus in public prayers we may upset people and drive them away from the love of Jesus.

They can never tell me what to say when I pray privately or silently. They can never tell me how to talk to God or what to believe. My faith does not depend on what a Navy chaplain or preacher at a state Congress meeting says. Amen.

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