William Law once said, “There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as prayer for him.” Nothing is more natural or loving for the Christian than prayer. Jesus, early in His ministry, taught His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6). The Apostle Paul later taught Christians to “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Those prayers are to be made on behalf of all people (1 Timothy 2:1). From Jesus’s own ministry, we understand that prayer is to be made on behalf of the sick especially.
Far from being called loving, such prayers might now be considered bullying. In the UK (Nailsea, Somerset), a
teacher has been fired for offering to pray for a student. Olive Jones has been teaching for more than 20 years. She took a position at Oak Hill Short Stay School in order to teach students who were suffering from illness. She wanted to help.
On a visit to the home of one of her students, Ms. Jones offered to pray for the child. The response was sharp: “We are from a family that does not believe,” the child said. So, Ms. Jones did not pray. Apparently, the offer to pray was offensive enough to the mother of the child. She complained. Ms. Jones was dismissed from her job as a teacher. And the matter was investigated as a possible incident of bullying.
Possibly, there is more to the story. Maybe Ms. Jones badgered the little girl and preached to her rather than spending their time together teaching math. That is possible, but the original story clearly indicates that the offer to pray caused trauma. Is this a sign of things to come? Is prayer an act of love, as Law said, or is it a power play to oppress the sick and weak, as the school indicated by its termination of Ms. Jones?