Why are people afraid of Christians praying?  

On December 6, 2022, a woman was arrested in the UK for silently praying outside an abortion clinic. She was charged on December 15 with four counts of breaching the Public Space Protection Order, which criminalizes people if, within a restricted buffer zone around an abortion clinic, they are perceived to be “engaging in any act of approval or disapproval or attempted act of approval or disapproval (of abortion),” including through “verbal or written means, prayer or counselling.”

The Order is meant to protect women in crisis from intimidation, protest and harassment. But this woman wasn’t protesting, wasn’t harassing, wasn’t engaging in any act of approval or disapproval by verbal or written means, neither was she holding a sign, or accosting anyone to pray for them or counsel them. She couldn’t anyway, because the abortion clinic was closed at the time. 

Instead, she was standing near the clinic, not saying or doing anything. She was approached by a police officer, however, who asked her: “Are you here as part of a protest? Are you praying?” 

It was the praying part that did her in. Because when she answered, “I might be praying in my head, but not out loud,” she was arrested, searched and interrogated as to what thoughts she had in her head when she was praying. Which seems a bit off, but earlier in the year a Scottish Government’s lady chief legal officer testified in the Supreme Court that silent prayer may be “psychologically damaging to women.”  

To this lady, therefore, even a silent prayer, that no one even knew was being offered, was a scary proposition. Which is fascinating, because she’s admitting that prayer has an effect. But, poor lady, she can only associate that effect as “damaging,” which makes her even more afraid of prayer.   

But would she have good reason for believing prayer is scary? Well, yes, because in Scripture, when James had his head chopped off and Peter was arrested and flung in jail in Acts 12:2-4, “the church earnestly prayed to God for Peter,” verse 5, and not much later, in the same chapter, the pompous, non-God respecting instigator of this outrage was struck down by an angel (verse 23).    

So, yes, I can see why people might be afraid of Christians praying, because the lady was right; when Christians pray, things happen (James 5:16).

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