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. 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.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:5- 15 (New International Version)
It is rather unfortunate that a concept like prayer has turned into an attempt to prove that we as a country are a “Christian Nation”.
It is also rather unfortunate that a concept like prayer is something that people feel is being imposed on them.
Because prayer is not that at all.
Prayer is actually a beautiful spiritual practice. It grounds you, it can give you peace and perspective. It can give you comfort in a time of mourning.It can also give you strength in a time of weakness.
It’s not a show. It’s not something to use to make one feel inferior and others fells uncomfortable. It’s not a magic potion that solves the world. It is a powerful practice that many that have participated in have benefited from.
It is rather unfortunate that we are having a debate about whether or not the Lords Prayer should be kept out of schools. Why? Because I really feel that prayer has been misrepresented.
If we look at the above words from Jesus, we will notice something. First, Jesus calls this practice to be in secret. Example,
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.
Second,He also challenges our words. Example,
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.
This is all done before the Lords Prayer is actually recited.
Prayer was being used a political gain for many who were “religious”. And Jesus challenged it. And quite frankly, I think He might challenge some of the thinking of those wanting the Lords Prayer in schools. Why?
Because as well intended the idea is, the problem is not everyone prays. Not only that, prayer is not something that God forces upon people Himself. There is an invitation to pray. But it is not forced. Therefore, if there is a perception by some that they are being forced to pray something that is not meaningful to them, then we missed the mark.
However, for those that feel that prayer should be kept out of schools, I would say that you are missing the mark as well. Many wise and well practiced people have taken the practice of prayer seriously. You might not know them, because they have taken Jesus words and have done it in secret. But they are out there.They are not trying to impose anything on you, but they know the effectiveness of prayer and continue to pray to this day.
Should the Lords Prayer be kept out of schools? I’m not sure that’s the right question anymore.
The question we should ask is what is prayer in the first place?