LARSON: Teacher offers prayer's chance that God might exist

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

Yes, even the mention of God is banned from most schools, but some teachers manage to sneak Him in, even if only by opening kids' minds to the mere idea that a higher power just might exist.

That's was I was privileged to do while subbing in a middle school a few months back. A language arts teacher had assigned her gifted students to pick a character from a novel and write a prayer to a deity -- any deity -- that would apply to their situation.

After defining prayer as expressing one's desires or feelings to a deity, hands began to pop up.

"I can't do this. I'm an atheist," a young man said.

"It's not about you. It's about a pretend prayer from a pretend person. All you have to do is open your mind to what someone else who just might believe in a higher power might say," I said. "This is creative writing. Your atheism doesn't keep your mind closed to creative thinking, does it?"

As he rolled his eyes and then actually scratched his head, another hand popped up.

"I feel weird about this because I'd be asking God to do something I know is impossible," another young man said.

"Is it science fiction?" I asked.

"Yes. My character changed to a different form and he wants to change back."

"So think of the Greeks who had different gods for everything. Make up a science fiction god of transformation or something," I suggested.

His eyes lit up and he responded with an emphatic "Yes!"

Another hand, another problem. "This is hard because I'm Roman Catholic and we always say the same prayers. We don't make up our own."

Before I, as a former Catholic, had a chance to address his dilemma, a young lady blurted out, "That's not always true. I'm Catholic, too, and I did an adoration once. For two hours I was on my knees and had to make up my own prayers the whole time. Compared to that, this is easy."

Then another question. And this young lady looked a little apprehensive.

"Is it OK if I write my prayer in Hebrew first, then translate it? I can only pray in Hebrew."

"Sure," I said, "and I think I can relate. In the Catholic missal we had our prayers in Latin on one side and English on the other. Somehow seeing them both helped me understand better. Is that how it is with your prayer book?"

"Oh, no! English is left to right and Hebrew is right to left. We would have to read like this," she said as she crossed and uncrossed her eyes.

After the laughter died down, I thought, wow, if we had to do it that way, no one would have a prayer.

But we can still have a prayer and National Day of Prayer on Thursday acknowledges that. Even atheists might seize the day to open their minds to the idea that maybe a higher power of some kind just might exist.

Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at Susanlarson79@gmail.com.


sarahldavis 3 years, 4 months ago

Wonderful column! It was the teacher's assignment, but Susan helped the students make the most of it. Maybe she had some devine guidance.


charlesg 3 years, 3 months ago

National Day of Prayer - just another excuse for the Federal Government to shove its God down people's throats, despite Madison's intent.


FordGalaxy 3 years, 3 months ago

charlesg - So, a government official actually showed up and forced you to pray? Were you threatened with a monetary fine or imprisonment if you refused to pray?


charlesg 3 years, 3 months ago

FordGalaxy - President Obama's Executive mandates, Senatorial Committee bills, an ultra-fundamentalist "NDP Task force" coordinating propaganda, all, to me, constitute "Shoving Down Throats".

If you think that Governmental involvement in your life is limited to your examples (personal visitations, fining, etc), then I don't think you fully grasp how powerful the State is.


FordGalaxy 3 years, 3 months ago

I may have misread your comment, but I'd appreciate clarification if I am wrong. See, when I read your comment, I took it to mean that the State was shoving God down the peoples' throats. I'm wondering if, perhaps, you meant that the State was shoving its God (the god of State being government power) down the peoples' throats? If I was wrong in my initial reading, then i apologize.

I do see a coordinated effort from Obama and the left in general to get a greater percentage of the population dependent on government, thus making the State the most important facet of everyday life. That scares me.


charlesg 3 years, 3 months ago

@FordGalaxy - Your initial inference was more inline with what I meant, that of God being a 'Supernatural Creator', not necessarily "Government in and of itself". As someone who does not believe any of this, I find being constantly reminded of the majority of Americans' beliefs through the Government mouthpiece as an "official yearly ritual" to be a violation of: 1) The Constitution's establishment clause 2) Madison's original intent, as quoted (1811): "Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative"

If, regarding your fear of State dependency and replacement of God with Government, then I think we share a common ideal. I, too, shudder at a North-Korean style demigod worship, I just realize that "Wall of Total Separation" (Madison, 1819) means prohibition of a National Church as well as prohibition of state-sanctioned belief. This is a wall of intended mutual division, not a one-way mirror.

If I appear oversensitive, consider running through the following exercise: For the next week, every time you see, hear, or speak the word "God", mentally substitute it with "Allah", and the abundance of spiritual control from the Federal Mouthpiece will become much more apparent.


sarahfulmer 3 years, 3 months ago

Well said, FordGalaxy... there are so many ideas regarding 'god', and so many 'gods', that for many people the personal worship of or prayer to a personal and living God is not really understood or respected.

Also, the failure of many 'christians' to behave like 'Christ-Followers' adds to the confusion and lack of respect for the Lord Jesus Christ and God Almighty.

Jesus didn't try to force-feed His message to people who weren't interested; He also didn't want His followers to use government to change the world. His harshest words were to the religious leaders who insisted on putting their personal doctrines above His message of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and eternal life.


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