During the national day of prayer, a few Georgia students got out of line according to news reports:
Controversy is brewing in a northern Georgia community after about 50 students prayed together Wednesday morning when school officials said they should have been in class.
The spontaneous prayer at Lumpkin County High School has become the talk of the town. Lumpkin County Schools Superintendent Dewey Moye said that a student started the prayer in a coach’s office at 7:30 a.m. and it lasted more than two hours.
There are many thoughts on this controversy. One comment on the original article cited to Romans 13 as proof that the students had acted improperly by disobeying authority that declared they must be in their seats in first period. On the same note, it’s conventional wisdom that one shouldn’t spend days praying that we’ve promised employers to spend working.
And there’s truth to that if we’re not getting the work done that was promised, we’re defrauding our employers Yet, it seems to me, there’s a danger in this. When it makes national news when students in one high school miss one first period for prayer, it suggests that our biggest problem really isn’t that we have a bunch of prayerful slackers in this country, but that we have a bizarre expectation of God.
We expect God to be well-behaved. We expect the actions of His Spirit not to interfere with our day to day routine. We expect spirituality to enrich us personally while costing us nothing. We expect God to be there for us when we need, want Him, and can fit him in. People who are not religious will nonetheless want a minister to, on behalf of God, bless their union. We expect God’s laws and teachings to jive with our expectations and if they don’t then either God’s wrong or he just didn’t say that.
I think we’re all guilty of expecting God’s Spirit to move in accordance with our convenience. We want to hear from God during our designated Bible study times or at church, but are we open to hearing his voice and being open to His Spirit at times unusual? Inconvenient?
That’s how He often moved in scripture. Scripture tells us of how Jesus came by and disciples “immediately left their nets and followed them.” (Matthew 4:20) And when Matthew was at the receipt of custom, and Jesus called, he got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9). And in the old testament, Elisha was called while working in the fields. (1 Kings 19).
The scripture replete with truth that God will speak to obedient people and call them to action at times and places inconvenient, for His own purposes. Perhaps this is because what the Creator of Heaven and Earth wants is a little important than what we’re doing at the moment.
It’s not my place to say whether this lost period in a school day last week was the result of a moving of the Spirit of God or merely due to lack of responsibility, absentmindedness, or youthful arrogance. But I would submit that the real story is not what the students did but our reaction to it. And whatever issues the students face, ours are far more perilous.