On A Wing & A Prayer

It was about a month ago that an erroneous rumor that the president had “canceled” the National Day of Prayer went all kinds of crazy “viral”, according to the Examiner.

Said one such ignorant claim, according to Snopes.com: “Oh, yes, Obama prays all right. WITH THE MUSLIMS!!”

I remember shaking my head, thinking that my friend Desiree’s oft uttered mantra “Don’t you dare confuse me with your logic!!” seemed quite appropriate right about then.

I was well aware that not only had President Obama NOT cancelled the National Day of Prayer, but rather had stated he “intends to recognize a National Day of Prayer” while instructing the Justice Department to appeal the ruling.

The White House went on to explain that the recent U.S. District Court ruling that the event was unconstitutional does not ban the president from issuing a proclamation.

Point of fact, perhaps anticipating the anger that her ruling would create, Judge Barbara Crabb also noted there was no law preventing Americans from praying or organizing non-governmental days of prayer, and wrote this:

“I understand that many may disagree with that conclusion and some may even view it as a criticism of prayer or those who pray. That is unfortunate. A determination that the government may not endorse a religious message is not a determination that the message itself is harmful, unimportant or undeserving of dissemination.”

Alas, many set out refusing to be “confused by logic (and factual truth)” and railed against the judge’s decision and (mostly) the Obama Administration, as if this decision was somehow emblematic of an attack on Christianity itself.

All I could think to ask, in all seriousness and without a trace of sarcasm, was “what would Jesus do?”

Well, for one, he wouldn’t support a National Day of Prayer in it’s current form.  What’s that?  You don’t believe me?  Well how about the man himself?

While the Bible has a lot to say about prayer, the instructions of its author are for a kind of prayer that has absolutely nothing to do with public displays such as these:

“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. 6But 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.” – Matthew 6:5-6

I don’t know about your thoughts on that, but it seems pretty straight-forward to me.

Public prayer can offer up illusions. It can make people think there is strength in numbers, when their Scripture teaches the opposite. These gatherings give many a false sense of security and present a bad example to those who do not believe as they do.

Judge Crabb, ruled it is unconstitutional for the government to endorse the National Day of Prayer. She did not rule prayer unconstitutional, which would be a whole new ball game.

The decision will likely be appealed, but again, “the Good Book” says Christians are to obey the government because God instituted it. How do they justify disobeying a government God has put in place, including one led by President Barack Obama, who many “Christian leaders” spend more time bashing then they do praying for?

And if they believe, as Paul wrote, that all authority is from God, why are they spending so much time criticizing the authorities and focusing on the “kingdom of this world,” instead of focusing on that other “kingdom” they say they believe is eternal?

Could it be that their peace of mind is more firmly embedded in this world than in the next? They want to see results, though they are admonished to “live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

They are not alone. Religious, or not, people are looking for things they can find meaning and comfort in. But as recent events have shown, our faith and quest for security are misplaced if we are looking to government alone to save us from terrorists, volatile markets and oil spills.

So spare me your public displays of insecurity and perform them in their rightful place.  Either at church amongst those who share your beliefs or in the privacy of your own  own home.


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