I’m normally one to jump in with my opinion without thinking through my response. Maybe because I have been drowning in lesson plans and IEP’s (Special Education paperwork) or perhaps because I have not exactly been a prayer warrior lately, I did not post anything on social media or participate in many conversations.
In case anyone is curious about my view of all that has happened this week, here goes.
As I scrolled through Facebook last night, one of the articles that has been written caught my eye. Actually, just two words, “against atheists”. Those words did not sit right in my spirit.
I also saw many pictures posted of Chestatee students who came together to pray in the early morning hours this week. Other high schools gathered as well to support Chestatee. (I have teenagers and understand how amazing it is that they woke up early to go!)
Facebook has become the way we feel the pulse of our communities, and I read many comments, and comments on comments. Parents, teachers, politicians, all passionate about our right to pray. T-shirts have been made, colors worn in support of our high school.
As beautiful as it has been to see a community come together, I am left with some questions. Hard questions. If you read my stuff, you know I love Jesus and believe in prayer. Wrestle with these questions with me.
Why are we fighting?
Our students have been able to pray at school all along. They can gather on the field, in the gym, in the parking lot, at their lunch tables and pray. Students are allowed to participate in organizations on campus like Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Young Life. Laws have stated that those prayer groups have to be student led. I love that- it puts our teenagers in a place to make their faith their own and learn to lead others to Christ. That’s amazing freedom! That freedom is not what is being challenged right now. It’s our first amendment right. In nations like North Korea, you could be jailed. In countries like Iraq, beheaded. We are blessed with freedom that the rest of the word is dying for every day.
Who are we fighting?
My heart was saddened by those words, “against atheists”. Didn’t Paul write that our battle is not against flesh and blood? Our battle is against the enemy, the dark forces of Satan in this world. The atheists, the unbelievers are those Jesus came to redeem, the ones he loves. We had a neighbor who was an atheist. Should we have been against him? Debated him? Fought him? He is now a believer, but it was because of humble believers loving him.
What was our motivation to pray?
Before you stop reading, know that I am so thankful that my own high school students, Tall Girl and Distracted Boy were a part of those prayer circles on the field. This week, our community heard, “you can’t pray”. We responded with, “Oh yes we can!” My children came home telling me how powerful it was. As believers urged to “pray without ceasing”, shouldn’t we wonder if we have always had the freedom to pray, why haven’t we? Why haven’t we come together as a community to pray for those dying in Iraq or even those students who are being abused and molested before they come to school each day. Who will stand and pray for kids in foster care,or homeless? These are hard questions, but if we don’t ask them, will we grow?
Do we want teachers leading prayer and Bible study?
That seems like a no-brainer, but is it? I have to say, that unless I know a teacher’s beliefs, I would rather teach my own children. We have so many opportunities to teach our children about Christ at home and in our local churches. As much as we love each other as Christians, we do not all agree on theology. But here is something beautiful- our children are allowed to ask a teacher to pray with them if they need prayer! That means that if there is a coach that my student knows is a believer and my child needs prayer, she is allowed to ask the coach. Again, do we realize how blessed we are? That is a freedom we have taken for granted. For parents of students living in more diverse areas of our country those teachers and coaches may be Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu.
This last question has weighed on my heart most.
After this is all over, will we pray for those who don’t believe? Will our students gather on the field to pray for those who oppose God? Will our community come together and pray for our fellow believers who are being tortured for their faith in Christ? This freedom that we have- will we exercise it when this law suit is over? I get excited thinking about the possibilities! What if those students see God move and decide to keep praying? What if there are teenagers on football fields every morning praying for their schools and communities? Once this lawsuit is over and the dust settles, the atheists will be watching. I’m praying that we will still be praying. Not for ourselves and our “rights”, but for them.
One thing that I realized this week is that I’m not battling it out in prayer enough. I’m not fighting for my family and my world in prayer. I’m distracted by all the crazy, big family stuff and work stuff. I have the freedom to come to the throne of God on behalf of those in need. I’m not afraid of someone taking that freedom away. I’m more concerned about my tendency to lay that freedom down.
The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. James 5:16 The Message