An interfaith prayer vigil will be held at the National Cathedral for the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It seems that no Evangelicals were invited to participate along side the “dean of the Cathedral, the Bishop of Washington, a rabbi, Buddhist nun and incarnate lama, a Hindu priest, the president of the Islamic Society of North America and a Muslim musician.”1
Should Evangelicals have been invited? Carl Trueman addressing Southern Baptists seems to think that not being invited is a good thing since no invitation means no compromise.2 Mike Horton weighs in with a thoughtful response asking if Christians “can participate (much less encourage) such acts of “non-sectarian” worship.”3
I understand Trueman’s concerns and believe Horton spells the issues out nicely. I am almost persuaded that I would absolutely not pray at Ground Zero if asked. Almost.
My indecision lies at the feet of the interfaith aspect of the event. Interfaith cooperation does not really exist. Interfaith dialogue? Yes. Two different faiths praying together act like parallel lines running side-by-side, each proclaiming their own “truth” will never actually meeting. Such an event looks like nice on the outside and may feel emotionally satisfying, but is spiritually vacuous.
The question then becomes not would I pray, but how would I deal with the prayers of the others? What would I do during the time which the Muslim, Hindu, or Rabbi were praying? Would I bow my head out of respect? Respect for whom, the person speaking? What about respect for the Triune God? The dilemma would be how to participate without being seen as giving a nod of approval to other religions thereby inferring a denial, or at the very least a compromise, of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, I could pray to God the Father in Christ’s name while proclaiming the gospel though I’m not sure yet if I would. If I could here is an example of how I would pray.
Heavenly Father, 10 years have passed since the great tragedy of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Many have mourned and still mourn the loss of loves ones. Oh sovereign God, You are our great Comforter. You have not left us to mourn and walk blindly through this life. Father, You sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to comfort us with the good news that we are to receive by faith alone. Thank You for the good news that Jesus died on the cross in the place of sinners; that three days later He rose from the dead defeating death and securing hope in this life and in the afterlife for all who turn from their sin and believe in Him by faith alone. When Jesus ascended back to Heaven the Holy Spirit was sent as another Comforter to those who believe the good news and to convict those who don’t believe of their sin. Father, I ask that the good news of Jesus Christ go out today by the Holy Spirit to empower those who do not believe in Jesus that they will find comfort and hope in Him through their mourning. Thank you for the great hope of the good news of Your Son, Jesus.
I pray all of this in the most precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
What about you? Would you pray at this event?
For what it’s worth…