Shelina commented on my earlier post about the moment of silence for the Virginia Tech tragedy and asked a question. I believe the question has several parts, so I guess that's the way to respond.
As to the particular time, in my opinion, that is exactly what you said - to publicly show unity and concern. I'm sure many have been praying and remembering those involved since the news broke. But a pause in the day puts a unified feeling on it.
And why pray together? Well, the New Testament does tell us that the early church gathered together in prayer. Also, Jesus said, "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Now, we can pray alone; but praying together I don't think it's like voting, but it does unite the hearts of the people together.
Now, I can't answer for all the people who bowed their heads to pray today. But the prayers that my students and I lifted up were for the family and those left behind. The New Testament says in Hebrews 9:27, "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."
There may be some "Christian" sects who teach there is a waiting period where people need prayers, but I cannot see support for that in the New Testament. Those who passed away cannot be helped by our prayers.
This is a teaching that varies among many religions. Some of you reading this may wonder if Shelina and I have had these religious discussions all throughout our friendship. We really haven't. I was too chicken to bring it up! LOL I've also grown more in my understanding of the Scriptures and maybe can answer a little better.
I appreciate the comments. Religion cannot be a mindless response to something; even in the New Testament we are called to study to show ourselves approved. Blind faith is a weakened dam wall, waiting to break under pressure.