Monday, September 5, 2011

Prayer in Public Places

An online story appeared last week regarding the "Evening of Prayer."  An atheist commented that prayer should be confined to churches.  The gentleman who posted his remarks questioned why public prayer was necessary since it doesn't appear to be working so well in churches.  He also stated this may violate our laws since there is supposed to be a separation of church and state.

I extended an invitation for this man to write a guest post for this blog so he can elaborate on his position.  The motivation for my invitation is to understand this man's point of view.  If you would like to read the story about the Evening of Prayer and the comments that followed, click here.

In my opinion, the first amendment restricts government's ability to control my rights to free speech.  I believe I have the right to pray in public places such as parks.  This right is being challenged by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, specifically in regards to annual prayer proclamations signed by the president encouraging all Americans to pray on a specific day.  Click this link to read more about references to the National Day of Prayer.

The gentleman who commented on the recent story about the Evening of Prayer believes praying should be confined to churches.  He asked why I feel the need to pray outside of church walls.  The best answer I can offer is to say the One I follow did the same thing.  The three years Jesus spent in "public" ministry involved praying and teaching others to pray while He was outside the temple.

When people followed Jesus, it was almost always outside, far away from church buildings.  The picture you see here is from the Sermon on the Mount.  When He taught His followers to pray the Lord's Prayer, it was done in a public place.  When He fed a crowd of 5,000 (not counting the women and children) with only a few loaves of bread and some fish, this was done outdoors.

The Bible is loaded with stories about the work Jesus did in public.  He prayed often in public places.  In my opinion, our government does not have the right to prevent prayer in public places.  What's your opinion?

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