Recently on daytime television’s "The View," several hosts discussed prayer, specifically U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s practice of prayer. Parts of it were quite revelatory:
Sunny Hostin: “I don’t know that I want my vice president … speaking in tongues, um, you know, having Jesus speak to him.”
Joy Behar: “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus, it’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. … That’s different. That’s called mental illness … if I’m not correct, hearing voices.” (To emphasize Behar spun her finger in a circle beside her head.)
Hostin: “Jesus is telling him to say things. … But do we want our politics served to us with a religious veneer served over it?”
It’s puzzling that many personalities in this country claim to defend freedom of speech and religion. Yet their words often mock and malign others and tell us more about the speaker's lack of toleration.
The truth is millions of people in the world today pray, including me. I consider myself quite practical and pragmatic. It would be highly impractical, foolish really, to pray frequently and bring questions and concerns before God if one did not believe God hears and answers prayers.
Consider just a few, among millions, of those Behar would classify as “mentally ill” because they prayed to God’s for guidance and direction: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Also, why is it that people of faith, who seek counsel from an omniscient God, are tagged as suspect or should be excluded from politics? The first protection in the U.S. Bill of Rights is not speech, assembly or a free press. It is “the free exercise of religion” (see billofrightsinstitute.org for the full text to the Bill of Rights).
What would the women on "The View" say about our Founding Fathers, gathered in 1787 to write the U.S. Constitution, which is one of, if not the most, sublime political document ever crafted and every American’s bulwark against tyranny? After three days of wrangling, Benjamin Franklin addressed his 54 compatriots:
"In this … Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G(reat) Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. … Have we now forgotten that powerful friend? I have lived … a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. … We have been assured … in the sacred writings, that 'except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this; and … without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of (the Tower of) Babel" (emphasis added; see wallbuilders.com/franklins-appeal-prayer-constitutional-convention for the full text).
Franklin closed by proposing they pray each morning. It was seconded and passed with only three or four dissenting votes.
Consider also renowned 19th-century American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson’s address to the Divinity School at Harvard University: “It is my duty to say to you that the need was never greater (for) new revelation than now. … Men have come to speak of … revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead. … (Yet) it is the office of a true teacher … to show us that God is, not was; that he speaketh, not spake” (see "Prophets, Seers, and Revelators" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, October 2004 general conference).
Clearly, eminent American’s have long petitioned God in prayer. Perhaps it is Roosevelt, King, Washington and Lincoln who understand not only the value but also the necessity of prayer.24 comments on this story
Indeed, we would do well to follow the counsel of Elder Robert D. Hales, of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “(One) cornerstone of religious liberty is the freedom to live our faith … in home and chapel … but also in public places. The Lord commands us not only to pray privately but also to go forth and ‘let (our) light so shine before men, that they may see (our) good works, and glorify (our) Father which is in heaven’” (see Matthew 6:6 and Matthew 5:16; and "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom" April 2015 general conference).