“I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” 1 Timothy 2:8
I had a tough decision to make this morning. The new Panera Bread opened yesterday in Gallatin and is only 200 yards from the Starbucks that I frequent. But, I chose Starbucks because of the familiarity, the great WIFI, the wonderful people who work there, and my faithfulness to my goddess, Kaffeina. The coffee is especially good this morning. Let us pray…
The news reported this week that the Williamson County school board is considering changing their “moment of silence” to a public prayer. Although I have nothing against prayer itself I’m not at all certain that Jesus would approve. Let’s look at a few verses from Jesus himself.
In Matthew 6:1 he says “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Although this verse doesn’t explicitly talk about prayer, it appears to show that showing your piety in public is a no-no. And what Christian would want to take that chance of getting NO rewards from God?
Starting a few verses later at Matthew 6:6-13 Jesus specifically gives his guidelines for praying. To summarize, He says:
• Don’t pray in public like the hypocrites where you can be seen by others.
• Do pray in your room (closet in the KJV) with the door closed.
• When you pray, don’t babble on like the pagans. He doesn’t like a lot of words.
• This is how you should pray (what we know as the Lord’s Prayer).
The feeding of the 5,000 shows Jesus blessing the food in public. When He raised Lazarus Jesus looked up to heaven and gave thanks. But when Jesus wanted to pray, He always goes by himself to pray in private. He never tells people to bow or to raise their hands or to place their hands together. He never tells anyone to get on their knees or to lay hands on anyone. He simply says to go into a private place and say a few words as stated in Matthew 6:9-13. He is quoted as saying, “This, then, is how you should pray.” He doesn’t say that this is an optional way or alternative way of praying, but “how you should pray” or else.
So, the next time you decide to downplay Jesus’ instructions think of the rewards that you’ll be missing out on. Who knows what those rewards are – He doesn’t say. I can only imagine. In my case, it would be a great cup of coffee! Time to get in line for another cup.