Summary: Developing an effective prayer life takes daily commitment. #2 in a 4 part series.

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Title: Developing An Effective Prayer Life

Series: Prayer Changes Things

Text: Daniel 6:1-23

Introduction: The Graduates vs. the ACLU

This story took place in Calvert County, Maryland, where a senior named Julie Schenk was asked to lead a prayer at her high-school graduation. Of course, it’s perfectly legal for students, as opposed to school administrators, to lead classmates in prayer. But all too often, schools refuse to allow students to pray for fear of provoking a pricey ACLU lawsuit. And sure enough, a graduate named Nick Becker objected to the prayer. The ACLU swooped in to back him up--and school officials backed down. Julie was told that instead of a prayer, she could invite the graduates and their families to participate in 30 seconds of "silent reflection."

It turned out to be the noisiest "silent reflection" in history. When Julie asked the crowd to stand and begin the reflection, a man in the audience began to pray out loud: "Our Father, Who art in heaven . . ."

Instantly, large numbers of the 4,000 parents and students in attendance picked up the prayer, until it echoed all over the auditorium. Nick Becker, the student who had objected to prayer in the first place, stormed out of the building.

It appears that anonymous man in the crowd had decided he’d had enough. So he simply followed his conscience, regardless of the consequences.

In the aftermath of the prayer, the ACLU, knowing it didn’t have a legal leg to stand on, resorted to meaningless rhetoric. One spokesman said the "real loser here is the Constitution and the right of people to express dissent." Another said he would be "investigating the incident." (Chuck Colson, excerpted from a BreakPoint Commentary - June 30, 1999. Copyright (c) 1999 Prison Fellowship Ministries.)

Illustration: She Prayed, They Cheered

Recently, in Houston, Texas, a 16-year-old girl backed down from her decision to lead in voluntary prayer before a high school football game. She had been elected by other students at the school to pray before each of the Santa Fe Indians’ home games. The problem was that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this year that student-led prayers were allowable at solemn events like graduations. However, the court ruled that prayers at football games were not of a “singularly serious nature.”

In response, school superintendent Richard Ownby warned that any student who led prayers at the Indians’ home opener would be disciplined as if they had cursed. With the threat of expulsion, the young girl decided not to lead in the prayer. She said, “When a student is told by the government that she may say anything except a prayer, and if she does pray, she will be disciplined as if she had cursed, it is just too much pressure.”

Fortunately, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of Houston issued a temporary injunction barring the school district from punishing someone in this manner. He said that the guidelines that sought to restrict her “clearly prefer atheism over any religious faith.” In response to his ruling, another girl, a 17-year-old, with quivering lips stepped up to the microphone and asked God to bless the football game. As she completed the prayer, the crowd stood and cheered. (Richard Goble, Evolution and Columbine High School: A Formula for Disaster, November 15, 1999.)

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