Yesterday, I had the honor of giving an invocation at a Memorial Day service in Lancaster. It was the first time that I’ve done something like this in my young ministry as a Presbyterian pastor. There were many in attendance from all of the Military branches of service in our country. It was a reminder again that the persons who’ve gone before us and who will go before us are instruments of God’s blessing of freedom that we get to experience in this country.
After the event, I was challenged by one person who asked me of what I thought about praying in the “Name of Jesus” or closing my prayers with in the “Name of Jesus Christ we pray” at an event like this. I did the invocation, gave a short meditation, a short benediction along with closing prayer. I’m positive that I didn’t say in the “Name of Jesus Christ we pray.”
I’ve never encountered this question before and I think I’ve become more discerning of how I pray in public arenas like the event I attended yesterday. His context for his question was his concern for pastors and Christians going along with culture for the fear of offending those in attendance at a function like a Memorial Day service where there is a possibility of folks who aren’t churched and who’d be offended by a prayer closed by saying “In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.”
Listening to this person ask me my thoughts about this made me wonder about what other pastors have prayed at an event like this where one is invited to give a prayer or speak in a public arena? Do you pray in the name of Jesus Christ we pray when you close your prayers?
My personal opinion is that in an arena where I know there might be churched folks I’d close my prayers with an “in the name of Jesus Christ we pray.” Why not at an event like this? Of the folks present it was an older generation who grew up with clergy closing their prayers with “In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.” So, it shouldn’t of been an issue for me to close my prayer with, “in the Name of Jesus Christ we pray?” Right? In my short time as a pastor I’ve learned and through some of my training as a pastor I’ve come to understand that discernment is key to praying at a public event like a Memorial Day Service. Am I going along with culture by not say in the name of Jesus Christ we pray?
When the service was over a sweet old fellow and I chatted and he said, “thank you for the prayers.” We talked for a moment and I said thank you, I hope it was helpful, and he said, “when you’re led by the Spirit, you never will go wrong.”