Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tim Tebow and Praying In Public

Have you heard of "Tebowing"?  According to the website it means "to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everybody else around you is doing something completely different."  Tim Tebow, the quarterback of the Denver Bronco, has the habit of getting down on a knee and praying doing the game, even though everybody else around him is doing something different.  Why would he do that?  He is giving glory to God, and thanking Him for the good game.  I'm in favor of prayer, I do it many times during the day myself, and I am in favor of giving thanks to God for the many things He as blessed me with.  However, I don't fall to my knees in public places to do it.

The reason I don't pray in public is because Jesus said not to do that.  This is what mystifies me.  By all accounts Tim Tebow is a Christian, and I am sure he reads his bible.  Hasn't he read Mat. 6.5?  "But when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."  We can say all we want about giving thanks God and that we are praising God, but the fact is that Jesus said that praying in public is what hypocrites do. 

Why Tim Tebow wants to pray like a hypocrite is a mystery to me, but he is not the only one to do it.  In August Texas Governor Rick Perry got some 30,000 people to assemble in a stadium in Houston Texas to pray in public to kick off his presidential campaign.  I assume he wanted the nation to know that he is a Christian, but why did he and 30,000 people pray in exactly the manner Jesus said not to?  Jesus said they do it "to be seen by men."  I know they will deny they are doing it to be seen by men, but what other reason could they have for doing what Jesus said not to do?

Jesus said there is another way to pray: "When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Mat. 6.6).  I know it makes a person feel very righteous to pray in public, to show people that we are Christians, but self-righteousness is not what we should be after.  We want to glorify God.  We glorify God by living a godly life, full of good deeds.  As James wrote "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and windows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1.27).


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