Lake City, Arkansas' elementary school canceled their sixth grade graduation ceremony after a parent complained about the inclusion of a Christian prayer at the event, according to Christy Barritt (www.christybarritt.com). The school had received letters from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatening legal action. Parents then found a church willing to host the graduation and invited all students to participate.
Why would they take such drastic measures for lack on one prayer?
It turns out that prayer is far more than a ceremonial reference to God. Florida State University released results of five compiled studies that showed praying for close friends or romantic partners can lead to more forgiveness and overall cooperative behavior (also from Barritt). Dr. Frank D. Fincham of FSU said, "The value of the current studies is that we have objective measures to show that colloquial, intercessory prayer focused on the partner changes observable behavior."
What is true for partners must also be seen as true for one's children. Prayer is a force for God's good being done in the world. When parents pray for their children there will be less anger and frustration. This is not a devout hope but a verifiable truth. In a world in which we are asked to "think positive thoughts" to improve our relationships the FSU study found that positive thoughts combined with prayer led to higher levels of cooperative tendencies and forgiveness.
The parents who canceled a ceremony because it lacked a single prayer were saying the ceremony had no efficacy without the force offered by prayer for the children and the family.
When you pray today take heart that your time with God will positively affect your time with those for whom you pray.