Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. - 1 Samuel 12:23
In Birmingham, AL, a first-grade teacher who prayed with her class before lunch every day was told to stop due to a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The complaint states, “A concerned parent has report that a first-grade teacher at Norwood Elementary School leads her students in prayer every day before lunch.” What is the big deal with prayer by a teacher? The FFRF responded, “Public school teachers and administrators may not promote religion by leading students in prayer, encouraging students to pray, participating in student-initiated prayer, or otherwise endorsing religion to students.” How would you feel if you were that reprimanded teacher? What would you do? In this week’s Scripture reading, we see Samuel’s role changing after the inauguration of King Saul. He is no longer the Judge of Israel, however, he continues to represent God as a prophet who gives the word of God to all Israel, including the king. At his farewell address as a Judge to Israel in 1 Samuel 12, he encourages Israel to “serve the Lord with all your heart … [f]or the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake” (vv. 21-22). As God’s prophet and representative, he promised that he would not cease to pray for Israel (v. 23). I believe that the action of the FFRF is not necessarily a loss for the teacher or Christians. Just as Samuel interceded for all Israel in his new role, she and we can privately intercede for those around us. As it is written, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). Who do you need to pray for today? Let us boldly lift up prayers in faith.