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.