There are innumerable gatherings and memorials today as Americans remember 9/11. Officials and leaders of all stripes are leading people in politically opportunistic rituals of remembrance, usually Christened with the obligatory moment of silence. The tragedy of 9/11 is surpassed only by the greater tragedy of the institution of the moment of silence. The moment of silence is no victory for Christians. The moment of silence is the gagging of the faithful. We have lost our voice.
America does not need more moments of religious silence. We need war whoops of intercession—not battle cries and battle hymns that celebrate the slaughter of others, but screeches from the soul that cry out in desperation to the Almighty. Guttural groans. Pleading. Repentance. Intercession. Petition. Worship.
As we remember the terror that wrapped us up like a sopping wet blanket in the cold, is holding our peace the best we can do? When our nation is sprinting headlong towards the abyss of secularism and hedonism, is saying nothing the best we can do? When liberalism—not terrorism—is stripping God from every crevice of our beloved Republic, is zipping our lips the most religious thing we can do? Can we do no more than hang our heads?
Our days of prayer have turned into days of silence. Or more accurately, our days of prayer have turned into moments of silence.
When we stand huddled around some shrine or in some public place and are asked to observe a moment of silence, we are at the same time being asked not to weep, not to wail, not to lament, but most of all, we are being asked not to pray. Hang your head to match your sagging heart, but don’t look upward, don’t put your trust in God, don’t have faith. And whatever you do, don’t pray.
America needs to find her voice again, not the swaggering voice of political rhetoric, not the persuasive voice of economic optimism (a.k.a. “materialism”), not the oft times arrogant voice of nationalism, not the shouts of a social protest, not the jaded voice of a placard on a stick outside a clinic—have not we all grown hoarse using such voices? Like adolescents croaking out some ridiculous protest in the living room, we have mastered the ineffective and powerless presentation of our views in the public square. And like an adolescent sent to his room for a time out, we have been sent packing over and over again.
America needs to find her voice again, the voice of prayer. The Almighty bids us to pray. He invites us to lift our voice. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3).
No one stuffed a sock in our mouths. No one strapped a muzzle on our faces. No one held a gun to our heads. No one forbade us to pray. We were simply asked to observe a moment of silence. As seconds lead to minutes and minutes to hours and hours to days and days to thousands of years, will these moments of silence be stacked end on end until we reach a lifetime of silence?
No one “took” prayer out of the public square; we voted with our silence. If we keep beating a dead horse, the flies will continue to swarm. The truth is, we stopped praying at home. As a result, teachers who don’t pray at home don’t want to pray at school. Judges who don’t pray at home don’t want to pray at work. They didn’t take prayer out of school, and they cannot put it back. The solution is for us to start praying at home again. When we do, it will not feel awkward to pray in public. If we find our voice in private prayer, staring at our toes in public will never suffice.
We have been gagged. . . by silence.
© Rodney Shaw and rodneyshaw.wordpress.com 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rodney Shaw and rodneyshaw.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.