Friday, February 17, 2012

To Say Prayers or to Pray?

There is a real hooha going on in Guernsey since an atheistic member of the island's government raised an objection to the recital of the Lord's Prayer at the start of sessions in our legislature.  In doing so, of course, he is typically trying to jump onto a rolling bandwagon, since last week a UK court declared it to be unlawful for Bideford Council to begin its sessions with prayer.  We have an election coming up in Guernsey and some Deputies will do anything to get their name in the media!

But does our atheist elected representative have a point?  In the States of Deliberation here, the Lord's Prayer is recited in French (no longer the native language of this community) and at such a rate as to render it fairly difficult to keep up.  Jesus criticised leaders in his community for perfunctory prayers which he described as 'vain repetitions' and which clearly did not express the deepest longings of their hearts!  In fact, the gospels reveal Jesus as a man of prayer, yet record him being scathing of public prayers and ritual.  Should, therefore, the committed Christian join hands with the atheist to decry this anachronism?  What do you think?

Perhaps those States members who want to pray, and who believe that prayer can make a difference, should attend the monthly prayer breakfast for States' members held in a local hotel on the first morning of each monthly session?  Or, if there is a desire to pray in the debating chamber, maybe it would be better to ask someone who does have faith to pray a short prayer from the heart at the start of business, rather like the opening moments of the Grammy Awards last week in Los Angeles.  If that feels uncomfortable for the majority it may be that the present arrangement offers a nod in the direction of tradition and history.  But a nod is probably only as good as a wink - and we all know how insincere that can be!