My Day to Pray

Posted: June 17, 2009 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church
Tags: , , , , , , ,

By Matt HoranOldTampaCityHall-001

          So a couple weeks ago we get a call in the office from soneone on the city council asking if our senior pastor, Dr. Jim Harnish, could come and do the opening invocation at the next city council meeting.  Jim was unavailable, as were our other pastors, Rev. Bernie Lieving and Rev. Vicki Walker.  So the question became, “Do you have anybody else that can pray?”
          When Peggi, our Administrative Assistant to the Pastors came into the office and asked me if I was interested in doing it, I paused.  I’m not a big fan of such intersections of church and state, and had to think on my position a bit.  But, with the person waiting on hold, I decided to err on the side of prayer, and agreed to do it–committing to give the matter further thought down the road.
          Of course, a person’s faith is not easily left at the door, so I don’t expect that a government official will just separate their professional life from their spiritual life.  None of us can do that.
          I am a huge believer in the power of free will.  If a person, of their own free will, makes a committment to follow Jesus Christ; such a committment will be transformative in their life, and will leave them forever different, beginning a discipleship journey that will take them to new places and experiences, and will make them a part of something bigger than themselves–something of eternal significance.
          Conversely, if a faith decision is foisted on someone without the experience of choosing to follow Jesus Christ of their own free will, then they will likely have a quite opposite experience.  They could experience apathy at best, but most likely anger and resentment.  This is why Confirmation is so important–we can train a child in the faith, but ultimately they must come to a place where they decide whether or not this is the path that they want set before them.
          Thus, I am not comfortable with prayers or other faith expressions added to government sponsored events, or frankly, any event where a persons business or other well being requires attendance.  They are not experiencing prayer of their own free will.  They may choose to participate if they’re already of a praying persuasion, but otherwise, the person is tolerating it so that they can get what they came there for.
          This is why I prefer to not see “prayer in school,” that is, in the sense of a prayer read over a PA system, or before a public school football game.  I’d rather see Christian students praying because it’s a part of their lives, rather than a planned element of the school’s morning routine.  If you’re having lunch, pray and give thanks.  A test?  Stop and pray.  Nervously preparing to ask a girl to the prom?  Stop and pray… but do so at the time and in the manner of your own choosing–one that reflects your unique relationship with God.
          I do struggle with refusing an invitation to pray.  If they want me to pray, I’d rather that they come and see me after church or in the office during the week so that we can pray together with some specifics.  If I get invited again, I’ll probably go.  I guess, at the moment, I wish they’d stop asking me to pray over them, and start asking me to pray with them instead.

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Comments
  1. Interesting Conundrum. We used to pray each morning around the flag pole at our high school and felt the onlookers watching us and hoping that they would be brave enough to want to pray with us. We grew each month, not by much but by whom wanted to be a part of it. Love reading your stories… You are such a great writer.

    Thomas

  2. Terry Horan says:

    Interesting perspective. Your articles always give me something to think about! Keep em coming.

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