Saturday, May 29, 2010

Why Christians Should Oppose Organized Prayer

I've found that trying to convince Christians that organized prayer in public is wrong, never works. They interpret it as, "you're trying to take away my right to pray!" In recognition of this, I've formulated a better argument against it which I hope even Christians will appreciate.

In the past, I would sometimes point out Matthew 6, verse 5-6:

6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Christians tend to ignore this passage or interpret it to say that an organized prayer in a church is fine since everyone there is praying en masse so the whole church or event is a 'closet' shared by like-minded people.

However, what Christians really are neglecting is how organized prayer is really interrupting their personal relationship with Jesus and their freedom to pray whenever and however they want.

If they truly want freedom and a personal relationship with Jesus they should be demanding that they be free to say whatever prayer they want, in any way they want, inside their own minds. When a person of authority leads a prayer out loud they are infringing on how a believer can speak in a personal way to Jesus.

This now has become my argument against prayers in schools, at public events or during Town Council meetings. If time for a prayer is going to be allowed, every praying person must be free to say whatever prayer they want. It is an infringement of a person's freedom to have a directed prayer or to be coerced into saying the prayer the leader chooses.

If I step into a church and an organized prayer is going to be said, that's fine since I have opted-in to be a part of how this church conducts its rituals. However, because public places are open to everyone, no one must give up their freedom of mind or conscious so that another person or group can impose their prayer on those around them. Even Christians should be offended that someone else is telling them which prayer to say during their personal conversation with Jesus.

I don't oppose a 'moment of silence' to open a public event since I am free (and are believers) to do whatever mental ritual I want (or not) without interference. A good example is the two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day. During these two minutes, I can remember the great wars (or not) in any way I want. I choose to think about my grandfather that fought in the First World War. I'd be angry if some person or group demanded I take part in their memories.


Bishop C.J. Winslow said...

Organized prayer is as scriptural as individual prayer. I cite the following Scriptures:

The following is to show that we need to be in agreement.

Matthew 18:19 "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."

The following is to show that we need to pray for one another:

James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
James 5:15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Through the Old Testament we have leaders of God's people praying publically for God's people. I think of Samuel, King Hezekiah, Solomon, etc....

Watch the "Transformation" series where corporate and organized prayer has changed whole communities in Hemet, CA. Cali, Columbia, Kenya, and a hosy of others.

Every great revival (people returning to God) America has ever had was always preceded by corporate and organized prayer.

HumanistDad said...

Matthew 6:5-6 is meant to say that Christians are not to pray openly out in public for what they want to pray about. Prayer is to be a personal time to speak with god just as if I were to call you on the telephone, our conversation is meant to be between us only. Christians can certainly pray to or for each other but, again, not make a spectacle of it.

I disagree with your "great revivals" claim but let's say you are correct. Corporate and organized prayer brings about a return to god. Therefore, in order to get people back to god there should be more and frequent prayers.

Thus, to return people to Allah, we must insist there be more corporate and organized Muslim prayers. Governments around the world need to fund and support this initiative. Wrong god? Sorry, how about a revival to Odin. No? Mithras? Vishnu? All false gods?

So, let's drive people back to Jehovah (or Yahweh?) with a Christian revival prayer. Therefore let's fund the Jehovah Witness Church to have organized prayer. No? How about the Mormons? Catholics? Salvation Army?

Maybe these examples are too specific. Maybe we need organized prayer to just 'God'. But, if this god is not part of any religion, who shall organize? What god are we really praying to? Is it a single god (Abrahamic) or multiple gods (say, in the Hindu tradition)?

If you truly want freedom to speak to god, find the god you want and pray to it however you want. Take offense to anyone else telling you which gods to pray to and HOW to pray to them. How DARE someone organize a prayer and impose it on you?

Mary said...

Oh I like it! I especially love this sentence,
"what Christians really are neglecting is how organized prayer is really interrupting their personal relationship with Jesus and their freedom to pray whenever and however they want."

Public prayer (to me) seems to be a way to brag and show off. It's pomp and ceremony.
A moment of silence should work for all.
Thanks for your thoughtfulness.