Prayer in public schools is a sensitive issue. In a perfect situation, all people would graciously and humbly acknowledge the biblical view of God and His sovereign control over the entire world. In that case, there would be prayer in all public facilities, including public schools. As Psalm 33:12 states, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Praise the Lord that, when Jesus returns to reign over this earth, this will be the case. Until that day, a Christian should approach the issue of prayer in public schools with wisdom and discernment.
Our country was founded upon biblical principles, and Bible reading and prayer were long part of the daily schedule in public schools. Although our culture was directed by the Judeo-Christian ethic for the first 150-plus years, the U.S. is currently not a Christian nation. Our nation is marked by great diversity of opinion and religion. One of the blessings of this country is the government-mandated freedom of expression and religion. So many countries have governments that mandate the practice of one religion and/or outlaw the practice of another. In our diverse, tolerant, freedom-based country, one of the sticky issues regarding formalized, school-sponsored events is that, if the school sponsors a Christian event, it may also have to sponsor an event from another religion. It is easy to say that we want prayer in public schools until we realize that the prayers may include non-Christian prayers. This is definitely something to think about as we develop opinions regarding this issue.
How should a Christian view prayer in public schools? First, according to Romans 13, 1 Timothy 2, and 1 Peter 2, we are to submit to and pray for all authority, including those in authority in public schools. An application of this would be to pray that we as a culture return to our Christian heritage; may the Lord bring revival to our country and the salvation of souls.
Second, although Christian-based prayer is not sponsored in public schools, Christian students can and should pray while attending school. Students can and should pray for other students, teachers, and administrators. Christian students should view their schools as a field for evangelism, and they should receive training from parents and churches for this purpose. No one can stop a child from praying, only from organizing a specific prayer event on public school grounds. As the saying goes, “As long as there are exams, there will be prayer in schools.”
One thing we as Christians shouldn’t do is look to government organizations such as the public schools to reinforce our Christian values and beliefs. The Bible tells us that the world is opposed to the things of God. If our hope for our country is based upon electing the right officials or hiring the right principals, more than likely we will be disappointed. Our hope for our country is based upon God’s intervention as the gospel is proclaimed to the lost in all places, including the public schools. Prayer may be banned in public schools, but the Holy Spirit is not limited. “The arm of the LORD is not too short to save” (Isaiah 59:1).