A lot of emphasis has been given to praying in public the last decade. Not that more people are praying in public, but that Christians are complaining because some don’t like to hear it and want it to stop. Is it really so hard to imagine that some people don’t appreciate hearing someone else’s loud one-way conversation? To some, public prayer is a bit like those obnoxious bluetooth talkers – the ones who talk loudly into quiet public spaces forgetting that others share the hear-space. We call those people rude, and I can understand the arguments that call public prayer by the same adjective.

It seems to me that public prayer has become more an issue of grasping and demanding rights. Public prayers are getting louder and more strident in an effort to drown out the demands for silence.  I believe this to be mostly a American phenomena. We have enjoyed religious majority throughout our history. That means most of the time people do not have a problem when we talk to God in their hearing. But with the rise of globalism and the internet, we are having to share our public spaces with other belief systems, and it seems to me that Christians are not very good at sharing that space.

Thankfully, Jesus taught about prayer, so its easy to take our direction from him.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Mat 6:6

Public prayers for show (or political activism) are condemned. Long prayers are ignored. Communication with God that is hidden and private is encouraged (Mat 6:5-8, 16-18).

Can’t we stop the re-activism against those who don’t want our prayers to be public? Can we try listening to them and consider ways to do to them what we want them to do to us? Jesus says to not refuse someone who asks something of you (Mat 5:40-42).

NO ONE can stop you from praying, ever. But they can ask you be quiet.

The prayer closet beckons.

 

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4 thoughts on “Public Prayers

  1. What about praying over dinner in a restaurant? I do not like that. I always keep an eye out for the waiter so I can be their liaison in case they’re delivering something. The idea of closing your eyes and tuning out in any public situation is awkward, much less one where people could interact with you at any second. “Whatever you need, it can wait while I thank God for the food you just prepared for me.”

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  2. Yep. I’ve stopped closing my eyes in public prayer as well. Most of the time, anyway. And, we stopped praying before meals a long time ago. Sometimes, we say a word of thanks to the one who made it and the One who supplied it after.

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    1. It was the custom in Jewish families to say a formal prayer of thanks to God AFTER the meal. True prayers of thanks can be silent in nature and need not be put on public display.

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  3. During the manhunt in our community for the State Trooper shootings and killing by a local resident our pastor called for a noontime prayer gathering in our park to pray for the fugitive and for the community and for the law enforcement personel. Needless to say the manhunt ended with no more violence and a peaceful , for want of a better explanation, capture of the fugitive.after 7 weeks of hunting for him. Individual prayers are still being said in “closets” to this day but the public need no longer exists.

    As an intercessor who closets herself away daily I am part of an online prayer group where we gather together for agreeing prayers as that is another part of Christian praying and we are not able, due to time and location, to pray in one specific place together. We believe that prayers of agreement are very powerful and necessary and called for by God.

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