It is now perilous to pray in public.
A while back my oldest son was playing select baseball. He threw a hard pitch and felt something pop in his arm. He had a shot of instant terror that something had gone very wrong. I ran out, concerned to care for my son. With the players and parents crowded around, my first instinct as a Christian dad was to pray for my son. But trust me, you could watch twenty seasons of Little League and never see a dad rush the mound and pray for his kid. I hesitated. If my son wants to go public with his faith, that’s different than me putting his faith out there.
I am a preacher. I am already out and public with my faith. The game was on a Sunday, so I showed up after I preached. But out on the mound I was doing a raging internal monologue. I was running scenarios in my mind. With all those other families there, I was second-guessing myself. Do I do what I would normally do as a parent—hug my son, tell him I love him, pray over him? Or is that not appropriate—because nobody here agrees with that? By loving my son will I make him feel like a Christian freak in front of his friends?In those moments you wonder whether the person you are privately should go public. There are a lots of occasions like that. You are at work or school or hanging out in the neighborhood. Someone says, “Man, I got diagnosed with cancer” or “My spouse and I are splitting” or “My kid is off the deep end,” and your first instinct is “Can I pray for you?” But then you wonder, “Should I say that?” Maybe a solid spiritual thought comes to mind, but then you question, “Should I share that?” Plenty of Christians are in that place right now. We are not the dominant culture. We are less valued or respected. What we believe is considered intolerant and pushy and offensive. And so, we second-guess our instincts on how we should interact.