September 3, 2011 in Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers, What’s your view of public prayer at public school events? by Nicholas Vieron
First, I am aware of the Christian beginnings of our country. They are seen all over our nation’s Capitol and reach down into our pockets where we feel them on the currency and coins we touch. But, we have become a blessed nation of many varied believers and non-believers.
All God’s people believe in prayer and we all offer it often, in our respective places of worship and personally. Sometimes it is all we can do, especially at times such as we experienced with Hurricane Irene. (As you know the word IRINI in Greek means “peace.” How ironic, eh?)
If I offer a prayer in the rich tradition of my faith which often includes petitions to the Blessed Mother to intercede for our salvation, I might offend even those who worship in the shadow of His cross. For there are Christian churches where the name of Mary is never mentioned, and where a scriptural verse such as, “From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” is never quoted. I think many of us know the historic background to that.
But in the Eastern Orthodox Churches intercessory petitions are very much a part of our prayer, always have been, not only to Mary but to the Saints, just as they are in our present everyday life. We all have requests for prayers for someone. I get them all the time. We all do and we respond and make similar requests often and we remain grateful.
Now if that “division” is in our Christian community, how would we feel if during a public prayer quotes from ancient Jewish prayers are offered, or from the Koran are included or from a Buddhist or Hindi source.
As for the Lord’s Prayer, which should not be controversial, let me ask, was the prayer that fell from His lips concluded with “and deliver us from evil” as the ancient manuscripts would have it, or was the ‘doxology’ added, “For Thine is……” which embraces our belief in the Triune God?
One of my favorite phrases for ecumenical prayers I am honored in offering, is “Whether we worship in the Shadow of His Cross or near the Star of David…” But that is not under government sponsored platforms where all believers and non-believers should be embraced.
Therefore, why not let the churches, synagogues and temples be the center of our form of prayer, especially the homes where private prayer should be introduced, encouraged and embraced. If people don’t get it then, they might not on a platform which causes division and tension.
Prayer is very important to me. It should be for all of us. Lets hope and pray that one day it will be!