This past Saturday, Tennessee pastor Joe Nelms delivered the invocation at the NASCAR Nationwide race in Nashville. His prayer raised some eyebrows and drew quite a bit of attention. Check it out:
I’ve always believed that there’s no such thing as an irreverent prayer, as long as the prayer is made with a sincere heart. Then I heard Nelms’ prayer. Some people are saying that the prayer was the best they’d ever heard. I’d say it’s far from it.
In a Huffington Post editorial (and I can’t believe I’m quoting the HuffPost), Shirl James Hoffman put it well:
One needn’t have a particular theological bend to see that using prayer as a bit of shtick or hijacking a public-prayer opportunity to deliver a bit of stand-up is crass and insensitive, if not profane. And some would remind the good pastor that the scripture around which he no doubt crafts his Sunday sermons, warns mightily against calling attention to yourself when you pray.
I think that Nelms’ prayer wasn’t really that clever; in fact, it was a little annoying, playing into redneck stereotypes and trying to channel Ricky Bobby. I don’t necessarily think that the prayer was sacreligious, but it did pretty well scream, “look at me,” rather than, “look at God.”
When our prayers attract attention for any reason other than sincere faith, they are counterproductive to Christianity and do not serve to draw people closer to Christ.
That’s my opinion. What do you think?