Thursday, February 10, 2011

Public Prayer

I get asked to pray in public a lot.  Often it is called an "invocation," I think because that is less scary to non-religious people than the word "prayer."  Most of the time, I'm not sure why these functions begin with prayers.  Or invocations.  City Council, for example.  Why do we have religious expression in a government meeting?  And what does it mean that we pray right before we begin one of the most ungodly events I've ever seen in my life?

(Seriously, my colleague was shouted down there because he suggested that perhaps people might want to try being civil to one another.)

I also have discomfort with the Pledge of Allegiance, which they say right after the invocation, but at least that fits into the fact that it's a government meeting.  Anyway, I find myself doing the invocation fairly frequently, despite my discomfort.  I always try to make it as open and non-sectarian as I can without being all, "O great whatever we call You, or It in the case of those who believe It to be an impersonal force, or Nothing for those who are not into the divine thing..."

Today I attended a Rotary meeting as a guest.  I like Rotary; it's one of the only groups other than the church that makes singing a regular part of their meetings, and guests get serenaded.  It's a diverse sort of group.  There was an invocation.  The guy prayed to "Our heavenly Father" and ended in "the name of Christ."    


Sometimes I just really wish we'd think more about where we're putting prayer, and how it's used.  I also wish people would stop masculinizing God all the time, but I guess that's another post for another day.

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