Though it is traditional, it should be more than a tradition. May the practice always be enjoyed.
However, having the privilege, we do well to step back and look at the practice.
The question is when is “prayer” really prayer? Prayer is a devotee talking to God. It is not a monologue, nor an oration nor a commercial.
It is not the reading of a well-crafted speech nor a cunning way to make a point with the public or get off a zinger.
It is not a time we make God a divine Skycap we order around, nor a lucky rabbit’s foot we rub, nor a spare tire to be used in an emergency nor a parachute providing a way to bail out. He is not the Man Upstairs nor the Big Fellow. He is God. As such He is to be respected.
One of the thrilling thoughts is when we truly pray, He is listening. Talk about multi-tasking!
When we pray, we should be more preoccupied with the One to whom we are talking than about what we are talking.
To have a privilege and not use it is little better than not having it. To have a privilege and not use it respectfully and properly is a travesty.
There is a privilege not dependent upon a court ruling.
It is the right to personal private prayer which is often neglected. The secret of praying is praying in secret.
Prayer is like a personal spiritual GPS.
It lets us know where we are and how to get to where we need to go.
It is an admitting of God into the inner courtyard of your life and enthroning Him there.
It is a place to report for duty and being resupplied for life.
This statement from the Quaker’s “Society of Friends’ Queries” amplifies this.
“Do you make a place in your daily life for inward retirement and waiting upon God, that you may learn the full meaning of prayer and the joy of communion with Him? And do you live in daily dependence upon His help and guidance?”
That will do what yoga can never do.
Private prayer gives God an opportunity to prove Himself. As an example, consider Bruce Bickle, who followed Roger Staubach as quarterback at Navy. Years later, Bruce was on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes staff. Staubach was a premier NFL quarterback.
Bruce needed a car and told nobody, but prayed often for one. Roger and Bruce talked by phone almost daily as Bruce led them in Bible study long distance. Bruce never brought up a car.
After the Super Bowl in which Roger was named MVP, he called Bruce and told him that, in addition to a new car he bought recently, he was awarded one as a result of being Super Bowl MVP. He asked Bruce if he could use a car in that he didn’t need both of them.
God used Roger to deliver the gift in answer to the private prayer of Bruce.
I’ve had a lot of those experiences.
To have a privilege and not use it is little better than not having it.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.