I had a conversation recently that is troubling to me. The gist of it was that the local Christian community should find a very public and visible place and schedule a prayerfest there. In-your-face prayer.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of this person nor his desire to please God. What is troubling to me is the belief that Christians should exercise prayer and worship in a public and pushy way—as if you can force other people to believe.
In point of fact, marching, use of political power, and other public demonstrations of religious faith are more off putting than they are compelling. Disciples of Jesus are rarely won by force. More often than not, it is through the quiet, persistent, and sincere demonstration of love.
In many places today Christians are seen as bullies. Like modern day Crusaders, they attempt to foist their beliefs on people that sincerely disagree with them. I wish the person I was talking to would have said, “We’d like to do a better job of showing compassion and love to the community” instead of “we need to pray where everyone can see us.”
It made me wonder what Jesus thinks about this. He is, afterall, the one that said, “When you pray, go into your closet,” not “find a very public place to do it.”