Does public prayer go against the Bible?
Let us try something on this topic this time, shall we?
(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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. (6)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. (7)And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (8)Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. – Matthew 6.5-8 NASB
Much of the religious talk going on from the presidential candidates has to do with the fact that Iowa, whose caucus was 3 January, and several other Bible-Belt states are a state full of evangelicals (that’s what the media is portraying, I guess). Many of these people are older and grew up in an era when schools, football games, and other major public venues and events had a time set aside for public prayer. Unfortunately, thanks to various lawsuits, people of Generations X and Y (the latter I am from) have grown up in a society that most of these events no longer have.
Both of my parents are very secular; my father went to public school while my mother attended parochial school up through the 8th grade. Both had prayer during homeroom before the school started for the day. (They also had to say the Pledge of Allegiance whether they wanted to or not. It was the law of the time.) Guess what? Both my parents wish schools had public prayer, or at least the more inclusive “moment of silence” to start the day off with.
Most of my friends, family, church members, and others around here (eastern Washington is much more conservative/traditional than the western half, remember) want that back, but because of the liberals out west, state law still no longer allows it. (Such is considered “violation of church and state”.)
Here’s what I do not get. How come what Jesus stated in the passage above – and I think I gave a good passage to read, not just a one-liner like many other bloggers do – states that His followers are to “go into your room, close the door and pray to [their] Father”? (Matthew 6.6 NASB) I mean, group prayer like dinners at public places I guess is okay — but do you need to speak so loud for the whole dining area to hear you? To the rest of us you appear something like the ancient Pharisees, as in you appear to be self-righteous.
Before I state the next thing, let me tell you I am very limited in my Bible knowledge, so I may be wrong. Tell me where public prayer is encouraged, I will look it up, and I will post an updated opinion, capisce?
People who are asking – even demanding for – public prayer are asking for something that perhaps is contrary to what their “Lord and Savior” tells them to do.