As many of you may have heard, there are some big things happening with prayer in our local context. Just recently Orange County decided that it is no longer advantageous to have chaplains for our sports teams in our public schools. Now we see pictures of students praying before a game with the coaches standing far away in fear of anyone perceiving that they might be breaking a rule on participating or encouraging prayer. Who can blame them as their very jobs may be on the line? Around the same time the mayor of Winter Garden asked a man to leave a city meeting because he would not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. The result of this action was a vote that removed prayer from the city meeting, replacing it with a moment of silence and no longer requiring people to stand during the Pledge.
How should we, as Christ followers, respond to these kinds of realities? My first reaction is to fight. We must shout loudly how much we disapprove of these kinds of decisions. We must tell our leaders how detrimental this will be in the long run. We must remind our leaders of the fallout we’ve seen as prayer was removed from other places. Then, as I took some time to stop, to think and to pray, something else emerged. Maybe I’m pointing the finger the wrong way. I’m demanding that the leaders in a non-religious environment who may or may not know Jesus be committed to prayer. I wonder how committed I am to praying for our schools, our leaders and their decisions, our city, our country and our world? Maybe the problem is not lack of prayer in our city meetings, but lack of prayer in our churches and our own personal lives for our city meetings? Maybe we are more to blame? This was very convicting.
What if I prayed prayer back into these environments instead of demanding it back in from city leaders? Now, don’t get me wrong, we should gently, but firmly voice our concern about these things in the appropriate and most helpful manners. However, before we start getting up in arms and demanding things from the world, maybe we should go to Jesus on their behalf and pray for them before we stand against them. After all, what did we expect would happen in our cultural context with prayer? May we become a people of prayer for our leaders, standing in the gap for them long before we stand against them. May these actions on the part of our city leaders, as flawed as the actions are, spur us on to pray more diligently than ever for our city and it’s leaders!