Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
In 1963, David Bradley, representing his classmates, the first graduating class of Cranston High School in Rhode Island, wrote a prayer. The prayer became a banner. It reads thusly:
"Our Heavenly Father. Grant us each day the desire to do our best. To grow mentally and morally as well as physically. To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers. To be honest with ourselves as well as with others. Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship. Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West. Amen."
For 50 years that prayer banner had been hung on display, but not any longer.
Jessica Ahlquist, a senior at that high school has won her battle against the institution having religious displays. As a result, the banner is to be removed. For her efforts, Ahlquist is receiving the Humanist Pioneer Award. She is joined in that "honor" by Damon Fowler, who successfully protested the graduation prayer at his school: Bastrop High School in Texas.
Sadly, these young people are only doing what they have been taught is right. They have been trained in the way an irreligious society thinks they should go, and they are not departing from that path. In their minds they have been good citizens.
Thinking about this sad state of affairs, I found myself asking, I wonder what the founding fathers would say about what these young folks have done? Would they not say, "freedom of religion" is not the same thing as "freedom from religion"?
Then, as long as I was wondering, I wished they could visit with William Murray. He is the son of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair. It was in his name that his mother fought and won the case which effectively banished prayer from America's state schools.
Today, Murray regrets that battle. He regrets the souls which have been lost because of that case.
You see, somewhere between then and now, the Holy Spirit put faith into the heart of William Murray. Indeed, today he acknowledges his faith in the Savior and has dedicated himself to the organization which he has founded: the Religious Freedom Coalition.
We can only pray the same conversion will come to Ahlquist, Fowler, and the millions of other young people whose minds are being filled with facts, but whose hearts are a barren wilderness, devoid of faith and a life of thanksgiving to their Savior.
Today we pray -- while there is still time for them and our country -- that these young folks may come to the realization that Jesus Christ is their Savior and with faith in Him there is assurance of an eternity in heaven as well as a better life here on earth.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive those who, not knowing what they are doing, are teaching the next generations that they can find peace and hope in themselves. Let them learn that without a Redeemer life has little purpose and no hope for eternity. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries