What is a Christian view of prayer in public schools?
Prayer in Jesus' name, to the God of the Bible, was commonplace in public schools and other public and governmental institutions across the United States of America for decades. The United States was founded upon Christian principles and the Judeo-Christian ethic. For years the vast majority of US citizens acknowledged the God of the Bible.
Yet the country's commitment to diversity, immigration, and freedom of religion meant that the Christian underpinning would slowly erode away. This was not unforeseen. The prohibition against the government sponsoring or favoring one set of religious beliefs over others is a strong foundation of America. We as a nation do not want the government telling citizens what they should believe, how they should practice their religion, or to whom to pray.
When prayer in school began to be challenged in the late-twentieth century, it came as a shock and difficulty for many who see the value of such a practice. However, very few Christians would argue that we want the government telling our children how to pray. Public schools are an arm of the government.
The Bible tells Christians to pray for those in authority over them—those with governmental power included (Romans 13; 1 Timothy 2; 1 Peter 2). One prayer would be that each person we pray for would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, or grow in their relationship with Him. Another would be for favor for believers in government, and a revival across the land.
Additionally, Christian students cannot be stopped from praying in public schools. Many, many students pray before and during exams! Seriously, believers should be encouraged to pray for their teachers, fellow students, and administrators. The only possible prohibition is against organizing an all-school prayer meeting or event as an official pubic school function.
We know that our enemies are not those who may rail against prayer in public schools. These we should be praying for. Paul tells us who are real enemy is and what to do about it: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:10–12).
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