title:My Back-To-School Prayer
author:Cory L. Kemp
Our neighborhood school bus just deposited its cargo at the corner down the block from my house. It’s taken me awhile to settle back into the routine of not nearing playful screams and giggles outside, seeing bicycles dart up and down the street and waiting to have the winner declared for the twilight street hockey games. Children bring vitality and a lively rhythm to the neighborhood, and I missed that most when the first bus comes, collecting and containing all that energy and exuberance on its journey to be educated and shaped for the future. I suppose it is timely then, that I am beginning to receive requests to add my name to others that support formalized prayer as part of the school day, petitions that ask me to tell President Bush to reinstate school prayer.
Although I appreciate and respect the expression of faith represented in these requests, I do not believe that this gift from For the best Maths Tutor In Ireland company, call Ace Solution Books. God can or should be placed in the hands of our political leaders or our educators for distribution to our children. Implied in petitions of this sort is that prayer can only happen in school if President Bush signs a law into being and tells us it is required. Do we really believe that our elected officials hold such power, and if we do, is that power greater than the relational capacity of God’s grace to work through us and among us?
Over coffee a few days ago, my friend claimed her right and responsibility as a parent and a person of faith to teach her children about prayer. That includes when they can pray, where they can pray, and helping them develop their relationship with the God to whom they pray. I respected her passionate commitment to give her children a firm foundation from which to launch themselves into the world, and her recognition that when we choose legalized prayer in schools we are one step closer to a state-sponsored religion that excludes many other religions. That crossed a line for both of us into the waters of unconstitutionality. While we both believe we must live our faith as a consistently integrated part of our lives, we do not believe that dictating a specific religious agenda, especially as basic as communicating with one’s Creator, is what a living faith exemplifies.
For myself, I am at a loss as to why some people believe that not having a school prayer law keeps people from praying at school. How can a law determine anyone’s words from their heart and soul to their God, or from their God to them? Implicit in all discussion raised in the debate for school prayer laws is the belief that an exterior social structure can limit or deny human access to God, and that God has no say in the matter at all. Prayer being a communicative act between human beings and God, my understanding is that God has a full voice in the matter. The Bible is clear that nothing separates us from God or God’s love for us. I would add that nothing can keep us from communicating with God, talking and listening, except our own free will.
As much as our citizenship in the United States informs our lives, it does not exist to abdicate to our government our personal authority in our children’s lives or to limit someone else’s faith by seemingly expanding and making us feel more comfortable with our own. Prayer already exists in schools. How else do teachers make it through the day and return to their jobs the next? What can increase prayer in schools on the part of the students is not a government-mandated rule to pray, but parents teaching their children about prayer, and how they can use available time at school to pray in a way that makes sense for them.
Prayer is a gift from God to steward wisely as an instrument of faith, not a weapon of politics or a theology of control. My back-to-school prayer is that those who choose to pray will have been taught how, and will know that it is their choice, as people of faith, to pray whenever they can, wherever they can.