Prayer has been in the news a lot lately. Which is a good thing!
It’s in the news because people want to pray, but have been told by the Supreme Court of Canada that it is not appropriate in some places. Those places are at meetings of local governments.
Last night the Cape Breton Regional Municipality grudgingly acknowledged they needed to obey the ruling of the Supreme Court and held a public prayer outside the council chamber before going in.
Now, I believe strongly in prayer. I believe prayer works. I believe we should be praying in all places at all times. But I also acknowledge not everyone agrees with me. So while the Supreme Court has made a decision I disagree with, I believe it needs to be respected by those it affects.
However, this does not mean we cannot pray. In fact, I believe this ruling gives Christian leaders more freedom to pray. The prayer offered by our regional council was pretty generic, asking for some guidance as they met. In fact, I wonder that by praying the same prayer for the last 17 years it has become more of a ritual than a meaningful moment before the meeting, as can sometimes happen.
When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray he said this,
“…whenever 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.
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:6-8)
Christian politicians and leaders have the right, that if prayer is that important to them, to pray in their offices or cars or bathroom stalls or hallways or wherever they are for the meeting and the issues they are going to deal with.
It is my hope they will sit down with their agenda and pray over every item. To pray for their colleagues, the issues they deal with, the people they represent, and to pray to our Father to speak through them as they make very important decisions which may impact thousands of people.
Prayer ought to be personal. Prayer ought to be meaningful. Prayer ought to be a way to listen for God’s direction in our lives. What better way to achieve these things than to do it in private as part of meeting preparation?
My prayers are with all our public leaders.