Opelika prayer

Opelika High School cheerleaders gather together for a prayer before a game during the 2017 football season. (File photo by Adam Sparks)

One of our page designers, Janet, had a great idea after reading an editorial we published preaching to teen drivers and their parents regarding the problem and many dangers associated with texting and driving:

“Make them learn how to drive and use a stick shift with a manual transmission.”

Crossing the line

We laugh, do my generation and those older, about that being a lost art. Not just teens being able to drive a stick shift, or to understand what a real clutch does, but also the fact that many of their parents nowadays don’t know either.

Not long ago, another lost lesson came to mind when the local brouhaha arose over public prayer being spoken at high school football games.

You know the story. A coach or teacher or someone in position of authority was saying, leading or standing within a mile of students/players/participants saying a prayer together. That, as the Freedom From Religion folks argue, crosses the line of state leading church.

The adage our constitution is based upon that we as a nation of freedoms should adhere to the separation of church and state is in itself a good thing. Otherwise, any given religion could take center stage when it might not be what parents of students, for example, want taught.

Or, to use another example, do you want your tax dollars paying for a monument to Mormon leaders? Islamic laws? Witches and warlocks? I’ve seen disputes during my career involving those, and plenty more.

Focus on the Family interviewed me live on air at length one day because I had written a column opposing a local sheriff wanting to spend tax dollars on a faith-based program. That is, until it learned that the program was Mormon-based but also carried tones of insult to Catholic and American Indian worship for comments about their use of shrines and sacred landmarks.

I have many friends who are Mormon, Catholic and/or American Indian. I have friends in the Middle East who practice Islam. I respect their beliefs. But I don’t want to pay support for them any more than I want them to pay support to mine.

Who can say it?

The problem we Christians have, and perhaps those of other faiths and believes, is when we perceive it as attempts to stop us from the practice we ourselves desire in worship.

When I coached baseball, from the Little League level up to one of the premier high school programs in the entire Southwest, I cherished and felt reassuring joy when players would ask me to join them in prayer.

Slamming the brakes on that kind of thing hurts those who want to share praise in such a setting and are told they can’t. But, as locals attending at least two of our local high schools have realized, there are ways around this.

We still can pray. We still can pray in public. It just can’t be a “forced prayer” upon those who don’t want to worship with us. And so, why not as a crowd on our own together say the Lord’s Prayer?

And thus, back to the beginning in this bit of opining. How many kids today are learning how to say the Lord’s Prayer?

It’s changed a bit

Our Father, which art in heaven … after all isn’t something that King James himself taught in sixth-grade English class anywhere around these parts.

Alabama is a charter-club state of the Bible Belt membership, and our faith remains a big influence on our culture and daily life. Will it in the years to come?

Studying the King James version of the Bible, for example, is one of the many changes from Grandma’s church to today’s contemporary practices.

I’ll Fly Away, Sweet Jesus … is not sung as much as, well, I Can Only Imagine.

No problem! Christians espouse that ours is a God of love, and if it’s sitting on a pew listening to a gospel quartet, singing in a choir, or marveling at the rhythm of that cool drum cadence while sipping a latte from one hand and lifting the other high into the air in praise — for Christians, it’s about that love and sharing the Holy Spirit.

Similarly, it’s the same principle for those in other beliefs and their traditions and/or changes with time.

Except, how today, or more so tomorrow, will Christian believers be able to say in unison and words alike a prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer?

If it still works best …

Perhaps there are some things that should be taught just like they were yesterday.

Yes, saying the Lord’s Prayer in the King James version of English might be one of them. Same for the 23rd Psalm, where we learn the Lord is my shepherd.

You see, it’s not just about a “style of worship” or a challenge to prayer or being not just “politically correct” but “socially correct” to draw a bigger crowd.

It’s about what Christians should be doing from their hearts, not for style points or in rebellion, when they truly want to say:

Praise God.

It seems like we ought to be able to have a few ways of knowing how to do that — together.

Just a thought.

Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He can be contacted at tturner@oanow.com.

Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News.

He can be contacted at tturner@oanow.com.

Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He previously served as the news editor in New York for the nation's second largest newspaper company, and as the senior editor at several other news entities around the nation. He is an Auburn alum.

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