Why do we not see more praying in public? I don’t mean when we are in the house of the Lord or in the presence of faithful family and friends. I see families out for dinner and lunch all the time and I never see them praying. This is something that crossed my mind when my family and I were out at Cracker Barrel a few days ago. I am not saying we need to stand on a chair and do the whole “Y’all bow so we can go before the Lord y’hear?” type of thing but a simple bowing of heads, hands held with family or clasped together in absolute submission before God.
I am in no way tooting my own horn for good parenting but instead I want to lift up the joy that my children happily say grace in public. While their prayer may be formulaic it still allows them to express their thanks to God and they do so unashamedly. They do not whisper it either, they sing it from the top of their lungs sometimes and I have to resist the urge to laugh a bit because it makes my heart swell with so much joy.
Praying in Public is Biblical
Our savior Jesus prayed in public often (Mark 8:6-7) and we can safely assume that whenever He gave parables there were prayers. Ezra prayed in public (Ezra 10:1) when he could no longer bear the knowledge that Israel had forsaken the worship of God. Solomon prayed before the entire nation of Israel in a plea not only for himself but for his people (1 Kings 8:22-23).
You will never make saints through force, saints are made from conviction and through salvation.
There are plenty of examples in the Bible where praying in public was acceptable, done and enjoyed. That isn’t what we see anymore, in America anyway.
Praying in Public is Controversial
Praying in public is also highly controversial and we see that in the Bible. Daniel an administrator in King Darius’ kingdom was tossed in to the den of lions because he prayed in public when Darius’ was convinced by jealous individuals that praying to their Gods was a problem. Daniel ignored the law, prayed publicly and was punished (Daniel 6:1-16). His desire to please God was more important than what other people thought. Courageous.
We see that in modern times as well. Christians are beaten, drowned and slain for praying in public. Muslims are beaten, drowned and slain in public for praying. I make a point to mention another faith because persecution happens in all religions and we should never be so short-sighted to think we are the only victims. I am absolutely certain of where I will be when I die and I have a genuine concern for the souls of others but violence against someone because their faith is different or non-existent does not show Christ.
Prayer in School
I see people complain that prayer was taken out of schools and get so upset about that. Why are we so concerned about forcing children who may not be Christian to pray? We should be teaching our children to pray unashamedly and to respect the will of others. There is a time for Evangelism but forcing children at a public school to be stuffed in to a box that they do not understand is wrong. You will never make saints through force, saints are made from conviction and through salvation. Our negligence to encourage our children to pray so bravely is what has led to the cry that law has ‘taken’ God out of schools. It hasn’t, He is everywhere we should acknowledge that by encouraging our kids to pray instead of point fingers.
Prayer From the Heart
Pointing out the issues and triumphs of prayer in public leads me to my point really. We should pray in public regardless of the consequence. Whether it is out of practice over meals or because you’ve got that weight pressing down that calls for you to kneel, do it. It’s not illegal and God loves hearing from His children. Jesus warned us about praying in public when our intentions are not focused on the purpose of praying to God but instead we do so to try and raise our status with others (Matthew 6:5-6). It is sinful plain and simple. Anytime you place your wants, desires and needs above the sovereignty of God you are trying to undermine Him.
Pray from your heart men, get your family praying from theirs. Show them that praying publicly is not only okay but encouraged. How? By doing it. Just hold fast to your faith and the desire to please Him. When you let go of that need to improve your stature among other men you gain the courage of God’s love.