SLIPPERY ROCK —
Occasionally, I hear about somebody objecting to prayer. Usually, it is somebody who has no idea what he or she is talking about. It must be a slow news day when the media highlights this as one of their news stories. I guess nothing else is going on in the world demanding our attention.
However, when someone suggests praying in public, somebody always rises in open protest. After all, everybody knows how dangerous prayer really is.
Recently, a high school graduate wanted to include in her baccalaureate speech a prayer for her fellow graduates. I thought it was a rather nice gesture on her part. But certain people got wind of this and a nasty roar rose to the highest heavens. Certainly, public prayer is a violation of our constitutional rights, or so the objection went. Freedom of speech, obviously, covers everything but prayer, particularly prayer to the Christian God.
If I know anything about high school graduates, they need all the prayer they can get. After all, our government is not doing them any favors lately. If I were graduating from high school this year, I would want all the help I could get, including prayer. Most of them do not have a prayer of a chance of getting a job upon graduation.
Certain people banter this notion of separation of church and state, which had never entered the freedom loving minds of our forefathers. If anybody would take the time to read it carefully, our forefathers did not want the government to weld any influence over any church in this country. Unlike Europe from which they fled, there was to be no state church in America. Now, we have it backwards and the government is trying to influence religion in our country. They can’t even balance a budget, yet they want to balance my spiritual life.
If you ask me, the biggest religion in our country is politics. If you do not think it is a religion, then carefully think again. Politics has all the accoutrements of religion right down to kissing someone’s ring for some blessing. I think they call that lobbying. Every politician has a list of do’s and don’ts, which, of course, changes depending on what audience he is talking to at the time. Then there is that St. Francis of Assisi smile that all politicians have perfected.
Someone recently said to me, “I don’t believe in religion.” I am not quite sure what he meant by that statement, and I am quite sure he did not know what he meant. All I can think of is somebody used that word in his presence and, like an infant hearing a word for the first time, goes around saying it, usually out of context. Some pontificate the idea that they are absolutely nonreligious. Of course, no such creature has ever walked on the face of God’s earth.
Those who boast of being nonreligious are absolutely religious in propagating their non-religiousness. You will not find a more faithful congregation of people than those who claim to be nonreligious. If Christians were as religious as some of these nonreligious people, the church would be exploding today.
Every person born of woman worships something or someone. If we do not worship God, we are going to worship something else and some even go as far as to worship themselves. I think God Himself chuckles at this last category. Imagine, somebody actually worshiping himself.
Prayer is one of those things that come natural to a person. Even those who do not pray on a regular basis will pray when they get into trouble. They may not pray to God. They pray to somebody or something, which is the absurdity of it all.
I find it rather amusing, but sad, that most people do not know whom they are praying to. Everybody, if they have a sober and honest moment, recognizes that there is a power beyond them. If they do not recognize such a power, they assume they are that power.
Those who do not recognize God have become a god unto themselves. I have often wondered how these people pray to themselves. So, to help them out as much as possible, I have come up with a prayer for those who believe they are in fact God.
“I am my own father, hallowed be my name. My kingdom come, my will be done, on earth as it is in my dreams. I give myself this day my daily bread, and I foreclose on all my debts, as I have eluded my debtors. And I go right into temptation, because I really enjoy evil. For mine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for as long as I say so. Amen.”
It must be nice to pray to yourself. I would not know, because I have never tried it. I have given myself a good talking to, but that sure is not prayer.
The Bible says a lot about prayer. Some of my favorite quotes are, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV), “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray” (James 5:13a KJV), “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18 KJV).
For me, the question is never to pray or not to pray. I enjoy my daily time of prayer with my Father which art in heaven.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church website is www.whatafellowship.com.