You Should Be Able To Pray Anytime You Want
June 2, 2013 1 Comment
A simple and profound statement from the mouth of a child:
“You should be able to pray anytime you want.”
Where does the right to pray come from, and why would someone not be allowed to pray?
The temperature was mild with an overcast sky, brightly colored flowers were placed with care at many of the gravesites. Small U.S. flags were also widely distributed in every direction as we approached the centerpiece of the day’s ceremonies; the War Veteran’s Memorial.
A crowd made up mostly of veterans and family members came to “pay their respects.” Schools and government offices closed for the day, as is the annual custom. The tradition in this valley sees members of various veterans’ organizations publicly recognizing the lives of local residents lost in combat, and those who served in the armed forces that have passed on from other causes during the last year. The local VFW Post Commander observes in his understated way, “It is quite a list.”
Flags flutter in the light breeze as everyone gets ready for the annual speech from an elected official. This year, the mayor is standing in to give the speech, since the attendance of the state senator is not certain. By the time of the speech, the state senator is there, along with a state representative. Two city councilmembers and a port commisioner also attend.
The fire chief stands tall in his dress uniform; a police watch commander pulls double duty representing law enforcement, while also serving on the veterans’ honor guard.
Some people seem mainly interested in the releasing of the doves which takes place at the end of the ceremonies. My three young children are watching for this to happen as much as the anxious senior citizens next to them.
Although routine, a member of the veterans’ groups is designated as chaplain, and offers prayers at both the beginning and end of the ceremonies. The mayor speaks about wars bringing us independence, preserving the union, ending slavery, defeating fascist regimes, and fighting terrorists. In the mayor’s remarks, he references a quote from scripture, saying “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Following the day’s event, my kids got to eat lunch at a local eatery where my six year old volunteered to say grace before our family ate our meal.
As we ate, I told my children how some people do not want others to be allowed to pray. I reflected on the fact that we had just been at an event where not one, but two prayers were offered. In my family we regularly say grace before meals, even in public places. My children were surprised that others might try to prohibit this.
I asked the kids if they can recall ever saying prayers at school. They could not. I explained that those opposed to prayers have made it against the rules for teachers to pray when students can see them. In addition, these same people want it to be illegal for us to pray at events like the one we just attended, since they are done in public. (I was thinking about the attempts to ban prayers at sporting events, at school flagpoles, council meetings, etc. A former pastor of mine was even told by the city council in another city that he could not offer prayers at their meetings if he mentioned Jesus.)
The day became a teachable moment for my children in both freedom and faith. I explained to them that we pray as a family, and believe that other people should be allowed to pray as well. I told the kids that no one has ever been harmed by saying prayers.
This Memorial Day my eyes burned with tears being forced back. The history and traditions of our nation are under assault from military threats, and perhaps of more serious concern, the ascendancy of secular humanism as America’s mainstream religious belief.
Government in the Biblical time of Daniel attempted to outlaw prayer, but failed. Attempts to outlaw prayer in America will also fail in the end.
While Memorial Day is about honoring those who died in war for our nation, it brought into amazing focus the spiritual warfare that is doing more than colonial empires or fascist regimes ever could to dictate when and what kind of prayers are said in America.
“You should be able to pray anytime you want,” says my six year old. Although she doesn’t know it yet, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution also acknowledges this principal. Yes, the same Constitution that military members swear to uphold and defend, and occasionally die to help preserve.
In a free society, one is free to spurn God for other beliefs, if that is a person’s choice. One is also free to pray anytime they want. To attempt to control this with government directives is to contradict the concept of liberty Americans have cherished for so many years.
- SUPREME COURT TO HEAR HISTORIC RELIGIOUS LIBERTY CASE (breitbart.com)