Every Parliamentary day begins with prayers, and in particular the following prayer
“Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed.”
These sentiments seem to me entirely proper given that the most common complaint levelled against MPs is that they are self-interested, or put party before country. Reciting these words in the presence of the Almighty should ensure that they at least start each parliamentary sitting in the right frame of mind.
Prayers are not compulsory, members are quite entitled to wait and come into the chamber after prayers are over.
For some, the voluntary nature of praying is not sufficient: the National Secular Society now demands that formal parliamentary prayers be abandoned altogether.
Just a few years ago a parish councillor took his council to court to stop them praying before meetings –unbelievable, the lengths some people will go to!
Anyway, the courts decided that he was right and that formal prayers could not be part of the agenda. Fortuitously however, within 48 hours the Secretary of State used his own statutory powers to grant councils the authority to pray at meetings, which the courts said that they hadn’t until then had.
I pray that the attempts to ban parliamentary prayers will prove as unsuccessful as was the battle to stop councils praying. We are a Christian nation with an established Church with the Queen at its head at the heart of our constitution.
Given the strife over BREXIT I cannot imagine a less propitious time to abandon prayers. In fact several constituents have written to me to reassure me that they are praying for MPs, and in particular for wisdom at this time. My response to them: Please Keep Praying!