Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Little Something for the National Day of Prayer - May 2nd

The day after tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer in the U.S. This is different than the World Day of Prayer, held on the first Friday in March, which is supposed to be a Christian observance. Wikipedia describes this occasion on the first Thursday in May this way -

 "The National Day or Prayer is celebrated by Americans of many religions, including Christians of many denominations, such as Baptists and Catholics, as well as Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews. On the National Day of Prayer, many Americans assemble in prayer in front of courthouses, as well as in houses of worship, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples.Luncheons, picnics, and music performances revolving around praying for the nation are also popular observances. Traditionally, the President of the United States issues an official National Day of Prayer proclamation each year as well."

As a service to orthodox, confessional Lutheran Pastors and congregations, below is an explanation you may use when asked by folks in your communities to participate in the National Day of Prayer.
You're welcome!

Pastor Spencer

Prayer Is Worship, and That's a Fact!

Once and for all people need to understand that prayer is a form of worship. There really shouldn't be any argument about this fact. The very first words in Webster’s dictionary to define "worship" are “a prayer . . . showing reverence or devotion for a deity.”

Now, Jesus Himself said that those who worship Him must do so in truth. (John 4:24). And God teaches us very clearly that truth and false teaching are not to be joined together in His church (Romans 16:17, First John 4). Thus, it is obviously not pleasing to God for people who accept the full truth of His Word to join in worship and prayer with those who hold to any false teachings. For what indeed does truth have to do with falsehood? They are opposites!

How much clearer could anything possibly be!? But it seems most people reject this very obvious Bible teaching. Why; because they don't like it. It doesn't fit with their warm, soft, gooey-sweet concept of Christianity. But it is still God's own truth, whether anyone likes it or not.

Therefore, this Pastor and this congregation will never take part in any non-denominational, inter-denominational, multi-religion prayer-fest. We will say very clearly and firmly, “No!” We must refuse to offend and insult our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by our participation in any such mixture of truth with falsehood!


Anonymous said...

All Christians must condemn the false religion of the National Day of Prayer (FC, SD, Adiaphora, 10). Sadly, the LCMS is encouraging its pastors and congregations to participate in this syncretistic national religious festival: http://www.lcms.org/Page.aspx?pid=648&cid=1&ceid=713&cerid=0&cdt=5%2f2%2f2013

Daniel Gorman

Joel Dusek said...

Thanks, Rev. Fr. Spencer for the bold statement!

If the National Day of Prayer were solely a civil observance or reminder, like Memorial Day, I think it would be relatively benign, though unnecessary. Unfortunately, it's not just a civil observance but a push to encourage people to pray to whatever god they prefer, and therefore becomes public worship chock full of unionism and syncretism, watering down the Way, Truth, and Life.

If the presidential proclamation was simply a statement of the importance of religious morality in public service and kept within the bounds of the left-hand kingdom, fine. It usually crosses far into politics, though.

Prayer, worship, religion in general are hardly the government's business (although some early proclamations at least referenced Jesus Christ). I think it was developed into a major observance by the non-denominational, universalist-type groups for public perception purposes and as a method of their enthusiastic "evangelism".

To the individual Christian every day should be a day of prayer, and every Sunday a day of corporate prayer.


Joel Dusek said...

Daniel, I'm not sure LCMS is encouraging its members to participate in syncretism by providing a prayer. Undoubtedly there will be some LCMS clergy who willingly and readily jump in to public worship, just as there will be many who do not. For example, after the Newtown shooting, the LCMS pastor in Newtown participated in a joint worship "vigil"; after Boston, the closest LCMS church to the marathon held a special service at their church.

If a Lutheran church decided to have a service on that day, or even used that prayer on the preceding or following Sunday in its own service, I don't see where that would be joint worship. As I read Pastor Spencer's article, I understand him to be referencing the standard public, joint, inter-faith, "gooey-sweet" (love that!) multi-clergy, political vigils that always happen on this day and others.


Anonymous said...

A LCMS National Day of Prayer service is syncretism even if only Missouri Synod Lutherans are present.

"The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals." 34 USC 119

By law, the President is the administrator of National Day of Prayer. The President selects the God to which the people of the United States may turn to in prayer and meditation.

Modern presidents have selected a composite god of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. They ask Christian ministers, Jewish Rabbis, and Islamic Imams to offer prayer. They tell the American people that we all worship the same god.

By participating in the National Day of Prayer, the LCMS gives the appearance of agreement with the false religious teachings of the President. "when under the title and pretext of external adiaphora such things are proposed as are in principle contrary to God's Word (although painted another color), these are not to be regarded as adiaphora, in which one is free to act as he will, but must be avoided as things prohibited by God." FC, SD, Adiaphora

Daniel Gorman

Joel Dusek said...


I guess we have a disagreement on what constitutes syncretism. The joint community services involving people of differing faiths praying together are most definitely sinful and should be avoided. A presidential proclamation or legislation which commands people to pray together to Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, Zeus, Gaia, would violate both the First Commandment and First Amendment. I do not think that is what is occurring.

The existence of the NDoP is not a command to worship together, even though on that day many "...such ceremonies are designed for the purpose, and required and received in this sense, as though by and through them both contrary religions were reconciled and became one body." (FC,SD X, Adiaphora) Those ceremonies are sinful. Praying with one's own kind and in one's own manner while others are doing the same elsewhere isn't syncretism. If that were true, then WELS should schedule their Sunday services while no other religious services are occurring anywhere, taking the argument to absurdity. I agree that syncretistic prayer would be in principle contrary to God's Word even if presented as external adiaphora, but I do not agree that the NDoP is necessarily syncretistic. Contrary religions are not reconciling and becoming one body simply because those religions happen to be praying on the same day in different ceremonies and at different places.

I think the NDoP is unnecessary, and often leads to unionism and syncretism, but that it is not wrong in and of itself.

Good discussion, thanks for your insights!


Anonymous said...

Joel Dusek: "A presidential proclamation or legislation which commands people to pray together to Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, Zeus, Gaia, would violate both the First Commandment and First Amendment."

The National Day of Prayer Act does not command anyone to pray. However, the law, as executed by recent presidents, does violate the First Commandment and the First Amendment by establishing a syncretistic religion.

Joel Dusek: "Contrary religions are not reconciling and becoming one body simply because those religions happen to be praying on the same day in different ceremonies and at different places."

The LCMS National Day of Prayer resource does not condemn the President's syncretistic prayers; the President does not condemn LCMS prayers to the Father of all mercy. The President and the LCMS are truly reconciled and have become one body under the auspices of the National Day of Prayer Act.

Daniel Gorman

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