on public prayer

Tim Tebow Matthew 6:6

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8 Responses

  1. For those of us that don’t have the entire Bible (and references) memorized … yet. (grin)

    Matthew 6:6, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. ”

    By the way, this is the verse that I expected when I looked it up.

    Even though you tend to lean to the Left, and I tend to lean to the Right, I agree. Prayer and other “acts of faith” have become something of a spectacle. I feel the same way, to a lesser degree, about people that “shop” for a different church because it has “better music” or a “fresher presentation”.

    The entire controversy about prayer at pubic events (esp. at official government functions) could be defused by simply having a time of prayer as a SEPARATE event, which is held immediately prior to the “real” event. For example, instead of someone praying over the loudspeaker at a high school football game, the announcer could simply say, “Ladies and gentlemen, in five minutes, well before the official start time of the game, a group of Christians will lead a prayer at the home team’s end zone. Anyone wishing to participate will have time to attend, and to leave the field before the coin toss begins the game.”

    The same is true for judges that want to pray for God’s guidance BEFORE the official start of the court session. (I think that judges need plenty of God’s guidance. But, they do not have the right to “subject” non-Christians to their prayer session.) The judge could simply make an announcement, about 15 minutes prior to the start of the day’s session, that there will be a time of prayer. Anyone wishing to participate can stay in the courtroom. Anyone who feels uncomfortable may leave, and then come back after the prayer session is finished. That way, no one can later claim that they were “coereced”. If necessary, the bailiff could even post “warning” signs on the doors.

    I’m all for people invoking the Lord to make His face shine upon us.

    I’m against Christians being “in your face” with prayer that is for show.

    I’m really against preachers invoking so-called “imprecatory” prayer.
    (Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”)

  2. I feel like the Tim Tebow thing is less about how great he is and more about how awful most Christians are at openly expressing their faith. I can’t think of any other reason he would be heralded as some kind of saint for spending his Sundays paying football with a note on his face.

  3. I really do not have a problem with Tebows “Touchdown prayer dance” (until State Farm makes it a commercial, a la Aaron Rodger). I equate the eye black, to wearing a yamikah or cross around the neck, etc. Just displays of faith.

    On a relate note, I am surpassed there is not a picture of Tebow modeling Matthew 6:6 Jockeys underwear doing the “Tebow.” How does modeling and selling underwear fit in with evangelical Christianity?

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  5. Let’s get a little context from Matthew 6:5 before reading verse 6 ~ “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand praying in the synagogues and on the streetcorners, that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

    I see instructions there against praying to draw attention to yourself. And I see instructions to pray in secret. I don’t see, though, a prohibition of short public prayers of honest and unostentatious thanks. And if we look at Jesus’ own example, it’s obvious that He did not think that such public prayers were necessarily hypocritical or wrong: He prayed in public before feeding the 5,000 (in Matthew 14:19); He prayed openly in Matthew 11:25-26; He gave thanks before feeding the 4,000 (in Matthew 15:36). Likewise in Acts 3:1, Peter and John went to the temple “at the hour of prayer,” and the apostles prayed openly on several other occasions in Acts. The apostle Paul, too, “gave thanks to God in the presence of them all” (in Acts 27:35).

    So a case can be made, it seems to me, that Matthew 6:5-6 emphasizes the importance of personal, private prayer, without precluding the offering of sincere and unostentatious public prayers of thanksgiving. Which is what Tebow’s kneel-downs are; objectors have treated those brief silent prayers as if they are something extraordinary but such objections, it seems to me, are more likely emanating from a warped anti-faith disposition than from a genuine desire to ensure the proper application of Matthew 6:6.

    (By the way, some folks might need to be brought up to speed: Tebow doesn’t wear the eyeblack with “John 3:16″ written on them anymore (at least, not during games) because the NFL passed a rule (The “Tebow rule”) against personal messages written in eyeblack.)

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  6. James, I understand your point, but I personally think that Tebow’s goal is to use “the public platform that God has blessed Tim Tebow with to inspire and make a difference in peoples lives throughout the world.” That is, he wants to ‘use the spotlight’ to do good things. And while no one argues with his character as one who uses his personal visitations to inspire those in need, the problem many have is with his ‘use of the spotlight’ (if you will).

    Were he an excellent NFL quarterback, he’d play his game professionally, and then use his off-the-field time to inspire. Many NFL quarterbacks do this. But Mr. Tebow instead has consistently sought out the spotlight to pray publicly to such an extent that it has become his trademark. He doesn’t work on a street corner, but on a field. And instead of thanking God silently (or even with a simple finger point to the heavens), he chooses to isolate himself from others and into a good camera position, kneel, and pray. He’s not the Messiah performing a miracle about to feed the masses, he’s thanking God for a touchdown (usually a rushing one). Publicly. On the surface, there would be nothing wrong with that. But because he has stated that this is his goal: to ‘use the platform’ to pray publicly, and it is for the public prayer (closely followed by engendering a debate over whether God helps wealthy athletes win football games) that he is known.

    I celebrate the character of Tim Tebow, and wish that there were more quality men like him. But I would rather he not ‘use the platform’ deliberately to make prayers that can be ‘seen by men’, and would rather he work on his throwing accuracy, and reserve the inspirational for off the camera.

    Again, just my 2 cents. I don’t think there’s any problem with praying publicly or giving thanks. It’s when you seek the spotlight to ‘use the platform’ to such an extent that it becomes what you are knows for that I think it borders on showmanship.

    Thanx for your comments. -bc

  7. How do we even know his heart or his intentions? Lots of professional athletes have prayed publically under the cameras at games…after touchdowns, or scoring in other games. All Tebow’s prayers have done is cause the wolves in pious and skeptic clothing to circle.

  8. to be honest, i think tebow’s heart and motives are pure. i believe he believes he is praying/giving thanx authentically, and that his thankfulness inspires others to do the same. i don’t think he’s ‘playing’ the praying angle at all. my points are two: 1) the bible says to pray so that you do not make a public demonstration, and 2) it’s always better for quarterbacks to be known for their passing than their praying.

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