Should Christians pray in public?

Thirty years ago our society believed in public prayer and expressions of faith, and believed in keeping sex and sexual details in the privacy of the home – behind closed doors.  Oh, how the times have changed.  Now sex is pervasive in our society (I could elaborate, but I won’t) and a growing number of people say prayer and faith should be behind closed doors.

There’s a certain irony that people who don’t believe in God use their misinterpretation of the Bible to try to convince Christians to keep their faith private.  They often quote Matthew 6:5-8 when Jesus says not to be like the hypocrites who pray in public, but to go pray in secret.  Jesus is literally saying don’t be like the hypocrites who ONLY pray in public.  (ummm…. that’s one reason He calls them hypocrites!) Jesus clearly prayed in private (for example Matthew 14:23) AND in public (for example Matthew 14:18-19).  Scripture has many examples of public prayer like 1 Timothy 2:8: “I desire therefore that the men (and women) pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”  And Acts 4 tells us of the authorities trying to get Peter and John to shut up about Jesus and not to proclaim His Name in public.

The key to prayer is motive.  And praying in public to honor Jesus is not only good, but it is right.  If all Christians prayed in public, it wouldn’t even draw attention!  The only reason it’s such a big deal is because so few actually do.  We don’t need less public prayer, we need more.

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