Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity


3 Reasons America Does Not Need — or Want — Prayer in Schools

posted by Carolyn Henderson

Prayer takes place within the heart, and whether we are in the midst of a forest or a classroom, we can do it — without yet another government mandate. Light in the Forest, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. Licensed open edition print at iCanvasART and Framed Canvas Art.

Christians, like all humans, fuss about things, and a central fussing point of the last many years is prayer in schools.

“Our country is falling apart because we no longer have prayer in schools,” people say, emphasizing the point with 2 Chronicles 7: 14 –

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

All our problems? It’s because we no longer pray in schools.

When Did We Do This?

Given that I’m more than a half-century old, and at no point, in my school years, did we pray in schools, I’m not sure when these halcyon days of Christian piety were supposed to exist, but whether or not they did, there are three major reasons why we Christians do not need to — and probably should not — agitate for prayer in schools.

Governed by Men, not God

1) We are not a theocracy. The passage in 2 Chronicles is addressed to an ancient Hebrew people, who ran their government with God as their head — something that the contemporary state of Israel does not do, much less the United States.

But because we have this mistaken notion that we are a Christian country, with Christian roots, we keep hammering away for the external actions, like prayer in schools, that used to be foisted upon children, whether they were Christians or not.

“Everyone should be,” proponents sniffed. They sniff the same thing today.

As God’s people, Christians are not hampered, at all, from fulfilling the command in 2 Chronicles 7: 14, but they do not need to do it in the schools, or in government buildings (how well does mandated, corporate prayer in a secular setting work, do you think, given that Congress still opens with a diluted form of it?), or even in their churches: It is imperative that Christians pray individually, in their homes, and sincerely — not relying upon the public arena where we applaud the speaker’s spirituality:

“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.” (That’s how our politicians pray.)

Anytime, any place, all the time — prayer is a lifestyle activity, and you can do it while you’re fixing your hair. Figurative, licensed open edition print by Steve Henderson available at Great Big Canvas, Framed Canvas Art, Amazon.com, and others online retailers.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6: 5, 6) We can do this anytime, any place, and without anyone seeing or knowing — an important factor as our country tightens its control over the populace and slides moves more and more into the confines of a police state.

Do you want a government employee — and that’s what public school teachers are — inserting him- or herself into the spiritual life of your child?

There Are “gods” and God

2) We do not all believe in the same God. People like to point to our dollar bill, which has, “In God we trust,” emblazoned across the back. To the left is a pyramid with a disconnected, all seeing eye and the  motto Annuit Coeptis (loosely, “Providence favors our undertakings,” which is a great motto for a country with the primary goal of making money) and Novus Ordo Seclorum (New World Order — do you like that one?).

So . . . if this is the God who said,

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one,” (Deuteronomy 6: 4)

do you think he approves of pagan symbolism (the pyramid, the “eagle” on the great seal that functions more as the mythical Phoenix rising) in conjunction with, “In God We Trust”?

What God are we talking about here?

If we’re going to turn this into a 12-step program and say any God, or Goddess, just so long as we feel like it’s a Supreme Being, then we dilute the prayer into nothingness, and we may as well set up an altar to an unseen god at the head of every classroom. (Acts 17: 23)

Do we expect an atheist teacher to pray “in Jesus name”? Do we insist that Christian children bow to Allah, or Muslim children worship Christ? As Christians, praying to god, any god, violates Deuteronomy 6: 4.

Meaningless, It’s All Meaningless

3) Prayer becomes a meaningless ritual. Saying the words does not activate the heart, and whether we mumble our way through grace at a meal, or rattle off a generic prayer at the beginning of the school day, we are in danger of honoring the One True God with our lips while our hearts are far from Him, in which case we worship Him in vain. Our teachings are but rules taught by men. (Matthew 15: 8-9)

Prayer is a conversation with our Father, and as such, it is a privilege, an honor, a joy, and a very serious undertaking. “Our Universal Father or Mother, we honor you,” doesn’t cut it.

We don’t need prayer in public schools. We need individual Christians praying, all the time, within their hearts.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I encourage individual Christians to grow in their relationship with Christ by praying, meditating upon Scripture, and reading the Bible for themselves.

Posts similar to this one are

I Was Born in Babylon

The U.S. Is Not a Christian Nation — and It Never Was

The Misfit Christian (my book, available at Amazon.com in paperback or digital format. The closer you try to follow Christ, the stranger you will seem in many contemporary churches. If you feel out of step, this is the book for you. If you are not a Christian — but are a seeker who is unimpressed with the Christian culture, this is also the book for you. If I weren’t a Christian already, nothing about the system I see now would encourage me to become one.)

 



  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    You are kind, Richard. When I wake up in the morning, sometimes I think, “God, I am a servant in Your household. What do You want me to do today?” And I write, because there is much to say.

    Many ordinary Christians, like me, are realizing this, and they are speaking up and writing out. And while we do not have the support or funding of the Big Voices, the message of which we are counteracting, one by one we say our piece.

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    Thank you, Joanna.

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    Stan — we are, and always will be, “different” from others, simply because, as Christians, what we believe is so radically different from any other belief of mankind, that we will never mesh.

    I wholeheartedly agree that we should not limit our prayer to corporate Sunday church prayer, behind closed doors and isolated from others. We pray all the time, as we breathe. Prayer is our life, and limiting it to a leader led format — whether in a church building or at the front of the classroom — weakens it.

    As far as homeschooling — we did that. And despite not having the massive amounts of funds wasted in public school programs (far more is spent on administration, “social education,” sports, and counseling staff), we sent four highly educated, well-read, independent adults out into the world who can think for themselves, question authority, work hard, run their own business, and don’t accept everything they are told. I’d say that’s a pretty good result from homeschooling.

    By pulling away from systems that do not work and are designed to force people into submissive homogeneity, we are not hiding our faith from society — we are so insistent about living that faith, that we will not give it up!

  • StanS

    Although my comment is just one person’s thought on the subject, so is the author’s opinion that she stated.
    By eliminating prayer in school, it has alienated Christians to be “different” than the rest, whose views shouldn’t be taken with the same seriousness as those who don’t pray. It has also shown that prayer should be done hiding behind closed doors, in churches, and most likely only on Sundays. It has also brought a higher homeschooling percentage who don’t have the funds to compete with the public schools in getting better classroom equipment for advanced science [and other] classes at the high school level. Also, alienating our children in school sports [with other after school activities and clubs] and the scholarships that follow.
    Yeah, I really don’t see any advantage to hiding our faith from the rest of society. It is just forming less and less interactions with those who choose not to believe. Being forced to be second class citizens is like telling Spanish people that they can’t speak spanish in public.

  • Joanna Sormunen

    Another excellent post, Carolyn! And I agree wholeheartedly with you on this!

  • richarddolce

    HOW many nations have the cross on their national flag?

  • richarddolce

    Thanks for your great work. You should be on tv or radio.

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    There are apparently a number of pagan symbols and statues throughout our nation, most notably in our capitol. You’d think that, if the nation believed in God, much less Christ, there would be more evidence of it in our public artwork.

  • Pingback: Kirche heute, 10. Juli 2014 | Christliche Leidkultur

  • richarddolce

    I appreciate your insight into the mythology of american national origins. The statue of liberty is another pagan symbol. That has nothing to do with our following GOD.

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    So true, my friend. You cannot legislate spiritual belief, and we have more freedom to pursue it when there are no laws mandating how it is done.

  • Scale Lily

    I think you’re right; we have made it more difficult a matter than it is. You cannot legislate religion if it is truly a matter of the heart. I suppose it would seem not so much as honoring God as it would be deemed fraudulent.

  • Pingback: Do We Really Need Prayer in Public Schools? | This Woman Writes by Carolyn Henderson

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