When a Tennessee public high school football player received a strong blow to the neck and couldn’t move his legs, a student asked a pastor standing nearby to pray for his friend. It was dead silent as he addressed the Lord—but it didn’t stay silent for long.
An atheist group filed a complaint
against the school district after hearing of the incident. Upon discovering that some of the teachers and coaches bowed their heads as well, the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained that “coaches cannot participate in prayer in school” and that even “student-led prayer at football games is unconstitutional.” The school doesn’t feel it violated any boundaries, and the pastor says he is glad he prayed.
Do you think this incident was a violation of the separation of church and state? Do you think that those who wanted to pray should have stepped off the field and prayed in the parking lot? Does spontaneous prayer in a public place pose itself as a stumbling block to those biased against religion or God?
The Bible provides examples of people who publicly prayed at the risk of their very lives. After being informed that it was against the king’s command to pray to anyone other than the king, the Bible says, “When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10). Afterward, Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den.
While Christians should not unnecessarily go out of their way to offend those biased against prayer or God, neither should we withdraw from being witnesses for Christ—on or off the field. Remember Jesus’ words: “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32, 33).
Learn more about Daniel’s witness in this presentation by Pastor Doug titled, “In the Lion’s Den