By now, you are fully aware that the issue of prayer at football games is being attacked again. In fact, in this article Mrs. Carmen Kyle (a member of our church) was interviewed by Mr. Todd Starnes (who has visited our church and has family in our church) about this very issue. I appreciate these two individuals greatly for so many reasons, and certainly for their willingness to address issues such as this. I also believe that overall, most Christians have missed some important things in DeSoto County: certainly anyone can see the real issue is not an attack on prayer, but it is a disdain for Christianity. The hatred for the things of God should not surprise us as we are told in the Word of God that the world will hate the things of God. To be completely frank with you, I have a two fold issue that has yet to be addressed by anyone that I am aware of to date.
First, this same thing took place in Warner Robins, Ga. during my senior year: there was not great outcry from the community because legally/constitutionally it had already been decided. We were a great school to pick on from a prayer stand point; at the time we were number one in the nation in football and in the largest classification in Georgia. If there was a battle there and believers lost, everyone else in the state would back down. Instead, the response was that our head coach called me in to the office and simply said: “if you guys want to pray, we can’t lead it - but I figured you may want to.” It was over. As a team, we gathered before the game in private and on the sideline in public, and prayed. This set a tradition in the school; it allowed students to lead out and stand up. This wasn’t a negative thing for me or any of my brothers in Christ on the team - it allowed, or caused me to accept an opportunity to stand and lead among my friends. I would say the issue we faced helped begin to shape me into a more open, consistent walk with Christ among my peers. It was not a bad thing, but it forced students to stand up for something, not parents. This same opportunity is before some of our students today: rather than fighting, let some parents encourage their students to lead out in prayer in the locker room, on the sideline, in the band. This is done not to force others, but to encourage our students to stand up and be counted. It would also give great opportunity for instruction and accountability as it will cause them to understand if they are going to lead out in prayer, it rings hollow if they don’t strive to live for Christ in front of their peers.
Lastly, and even more importantly, I think we may be missing the hypocrisy of this moment among professing Christians. If a parent is upset about this issue, the first question that should be asked is: “Are you praying with your student regularly at home?” If you aren’t, then the epitome of hypocrisy is your getting upset that you can’t pray before a ball game. My guess is the thousands that are members of the facebook page protesting the removal of prayer have probably already removed it from their home, with maybe the exception of the blessing of the food. If there are so few parents who are regularly praying with their students at home then, why the ire over prayer in public? Is it really that they are fighting for tradition? Is it because it gives us the feeling of holiness that we are fighting against the world when in truth we have already surrendered holiness in our home? Most people in DeSoto County would quickly vote for anything that resembled smaller government, but many of them want the government to get involved and to help them out with this idea of praying with students at ball games. The real question, the real burden, shouldn’t be what is done at ball games, but is family worship being done at home? Is a godly marriage displayed to our children? If not...not praying at ball games is the least of our issues.