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Summary: This most legally controversial prayer key is not an incantation giving our prayer more power. It is recognition that Jesus is our mediator (1 Timothy 2: 5), our advocate (1 John 2:1), and our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16).

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Prayer Keys - In Jesus’ Name

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 15:16

I started this list of prayer keys back in the 80 s. I doubt any rational person would have imagined back then that the most controversial prayer key would be, “praying in Jesus’ name.”

It started May 5, 1995, when Judge Samuel Kent ordered students at a high school not to pray. “Make no mistake, the court is going to have a United States marshal in attendance at the graduation. If any student offends this court, that student will be summarily arrested and will face up to six months incarceration in the Galveston County Jail for contempt of court. Anyone who thinks I’m kidding about this better think again. Anyone who violates these orders, no kidding, is going to wish that he or she had died as a child when this court gets through with it.”

Sadly, his ban made it to the supreme court where it was upheld. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote a dissent, joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas, that the majority opinion “bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life”.

Earlier this year, the Director of the Houston National Cemetery prohibited Pastor Scott Rainey from praying “in Jesus’s name” during the invocation at this year’s Memorial Day ceremony.

The ban was overturned by Judge Lynn N. Hughes who held that, “Limiting a person’s freedom of speech and religion is an irreparable injury. Money cannot replace the freedom he would lose.”

That May 26, 2011 decision should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t. In June, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, and the National Memorial Ladies said the cemetery’s director and other government officials continued to create “religious hostility” at the cemetery. According to documents they filed in federal court, the cemetery’s director banned saying “God” at funerals and required prayers be submitted in advance for government approval.

Rep. John Culberson has called for a congressional investigation after he attended a funeral on July 8 and observed cemetery officials still hindering Christian prayers at veteran’s funerals.

The Veteran’s Administration, on one hand, has offered support for the cemetery’s director who issued the ban, while on the other hand denying that any religious speech has been banned. “The idea that invoking the name of God or Jesus is banned at Veteran’s Administration national cemeteries is blatantly false,” said Press Secretary Josh Taylor in a written statement. “The truth is, VA’s policy protects veterans’ families’ rights to pray however they choose at our national cemeteries.”

Rep. Culberson said, “Right in front of me, the VA directly and deliberately attempted to prevent the VFW from doing their magnificent, spiritual ritual over the grave of this fallen hero.” Cemetery officials told the commander of the honor guard to approach a grieving widow to reconfirm that she wanted the word God mentioned at her husband’s graveside service. “He quite correctly said as a Texan and a man of honor and integrity, ‘I’m not bothering that poor woman at this most terrible time of her life. We’re going to do the ritual,’”

On June 1, 2011, the Medina Valley High School in Castroville, TX was banned from having a student initiated prayer at graduation and from even using the words “invocation” and “benediction.” Judge Fred Biery banned the prayer and the words because the agnostic parents of another graduate brought suit saying he would be “irreparably harmed.”

On June 2, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott supported an emergency appeal filed by the Medina Valley Independent School District.

As of June 3,, Angela Hildenbrand, the valedictorian who wanted to lead an invocation prayer of thanks at her June 4 graduation, was told that she would be jailed if she prayed or if, during her graduation speech she used the words “in Jesus’ name,” “Lord,” or “amen.”

Late that night, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling, saying the family had not persuaded the panel “that the individual prayers or other remarks to be given by students at graduation are, in fact, school-sponsored.”

On June 4, at her graduation, Angela said, “Whether you would like to join me or not, feel free to do as you see best.” Then she prayed.

The agnostic family did not attend the graduation. “Our family chose not to attend the ceremony this evening because we did not feel welcome at the event and we even feared for our safety in light of how hostile some of the public comments have been,” the family said in a statement released by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

I don’t know if they really experienced hostility or if they are exaggerating. I do know that some people who claim to act in the name of Jesus do not honor his name. We should pray for the Schultz family to meet Christians who share the love of Christ with them.

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