Prayer seems to be a major topic lately.

I read a news story a few days ago about a 5-year-old girl in Florida who says she was told by her lunch teacher not to pray. The child says she bowed her head to say a private grace before eating her lunch, but the teacher told her that was not a good thing to do!

If this is what happened, I think God will have some pretty harsh words for that teacher.

The Bible says to "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it," and praying is one thing God-fearing parents do teach their children. I think most people pray, at least during stressful, threatening times, even if it's not a regular practice. A terror-stricken "Oh, God help me" is often uttered by even folks who do not make faith a regular practice when faced with a devastating circumstance.

Prayer takes many forms, and people have differing attitudes about how it should be done.

A few weeks ago, I made a comment in this column - an imaginary response from God to people asking him where he was when tragedies were taking place: "Where was I? You sent me away. You have shut me out of your schools, refuse to speak to me before important meetings concerning your communities - and too often when you mention my name, it is a curse, not a prayer or even a simple word of thanks."

I later received a phone call from a gentleman who demanded that I print a retraction to that. I told him that would not happen.

He felt that the only way to pray was in secret, "in your closet," as Jesus told people to do in Matthew. I don't understand that passage that way.

Back in Jesus' time, the Pharisees would stand on street corners and make loud, ostentatious prayers to draw attention to themselves, and I think this is what Jesus was saying not to do. He himself prayed aloud in a crowd at Lazarus tomb.

"You were advocating school prayer and public prayer before meetings!" was his complaint.

My comment was meant to illustrate the way we have dropped the expressions of faith we used to use. I remember saying a short, memorized prayer in school - it followed right after we said the Pledge of Allegiance. If someone didn't like it, they just didn't repeat it, and no one said anything. Prayers for guidance used to be said before all kinds of meetings, but now people are finding that offensive.

I would think that when serious things need to be considered, asking the Lord for guidance and his blessing would be a good idea. We have a lot of denominations and faiths - but God is God and he hears all of us. Perhaps if we all prayed more, this country would not be in such a mess!

Often, people will grumble that praying is no use - "God doesn't answer anyway," they'll say if what they asked for doesn't happen right away. But God does answer. It's just that his answer isn't always "yes" - sometimes, it's "no" and sometimes it's "wait - I have a better idea!"

Monday, we will remember. We will remember those whose lives have made a difference, those who are now only a cherished memory, and we'll thank those who are still with us, some with devastating injuries who are heroes to their families for the fight they are putting up to learn to live again.

Tomorrow, Fort Dick Bible Church is having a community barbecue at 1:30 p.m. withroast pork, pulled pork and all the good stuff that goes with it. There will be volleyball, horseshoes and other games. The event is free to the public. They will be smoking a whole pig on Saturday. If you've never had pork done like this, you've missed out - it's really, really good.

Samaritan's purse - you usually hear from me about them in the fall as we start putting together the shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child - has another worthy project. It's Operation Heal Our Patriots.

There is a summer program in Alaska that works with vets and their spouses. Like Operation Christmas Child, it is run by Franklin Graham. They could use donations to help do this.

They will be hosting 150 military couples this summer. Go,

This is one way you can help say thank you to a vet.

To reach Martha Williams, call 460-3000, or email