There has been a dust up in the County where I live in East Tn. I guess some atheists are upset that the School board opens it’s meetings with a prayer. Then there is a badge that the Police Officers wear that has three words on it…Industry, Education, Religion. So the atheists wanted the Police Officers to get rid of the badge. Then the well-meaning citizens of Loudon County got together and organized a ‘Prayer Rally’ at the County Courthouse last Thursday night. You’ve probably seen this same story a thousand times on Fox News. Atheists come to town, Christians get stirred up, Prayer Rally, Courts, etc. Same story, different county.
I did not attend the ‘Prayer Rally’. Here’s why…
- Prayers are not to the Government or Politicians. Matthew 22:21. Caesar can have my material possessions,but he cannot have my spiritual inheritance.
- Prayers are not to be seen by others. Matthew 6:1-6. Not that I am against praying in public, but what is the purpose when praying in public? When I bow my head with my family in a restaurant before we eat the purpose is to give thanks to God, whether others notice or not. The purpose of this gathering at the Courthouse was to be seen by men and have our voices heard before men. I cannot participate in that. If you want to organize a protest against the erosion of religious freedoms, I’m for that. But let’s not cast the spiritual pearl of prayer before the pigpen of politics.
- Prayers are not to be used to make a political point. Ephesians 6:10-20. Prayer is a weapon wielded by the Christian to fight against spiritual forces. It is our line of communication with God in the midst of our spiritual war with the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers over this present darkness. It is our ‘wartime walkie-talkie’ as we fight against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
- It demeans the Triune God. It is demeaning to the Father to use our method of communication to make a political point. It is demeaning to the Son to use our access to the Father granted through His life, death, resurrection and ascension in order to play politics. It is demeaning to the Holy Spirit who indwells us, helps us to pray and makes our deepest, unknowable groanings known to the Father, when we use prayer as a political chess piece.
- It was too ecumenical. I cannot unite in prayer with others who do not affirm an orthodox view of God as Trinity. If Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons or Oneness Pentecostals were present, then we are not praying to the same God.
- It wasn’t ecumenical enough. If the goal of the gathering was to be a protest against the erosion of religious freedom, would Hindus, Jews, Muslims, etc. be welcome to help in the protest? I seriously doubt it. Besides, since this was billed as a ‘Prayer Rally’, I would expect that only those that conform with the ‘cultural christianity’ of the South would be welcome. But, if JW’s Mormons or Oneness Pentecostals were present, then why exclude other faiths?
- It is a distraction from the true fight. There is an onslaught of atheism, false religion and cultural christianity that we must fight against. Instead, the enemy has tricked us into wasting our time fighting for our rights as Americans. Jesus said His Kingdom is not of this world. If His Kingdom were of this world then His servants would fight. Jesus’ Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom that is at war with spiritual (not flesh and blood) enemies. True, this war is played out in some sense in the physical realm, but as Christians let’s not get hung up on our civil rights and the enemies of those rights. That is the place where you work as a citizen of the United States. As Christians, we have another citizenship, and a whole other set of rules to live by that are not embodied in the Declaration Of Independence, the Constitution or the Bill Of Rights. As Christians, we have the right to be mistreated. We have the right to suffer as Christ suffered. We have the right to be persecuted. We have the right to be marginalized. But we also have the right to bring our requests, burdens, cares and trials to the throne of grace through the vehicle of prayer. Let’s take advantage of those rights and fight the battle that God has called us to fight.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison– that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.