So, I Pray at Restaurants…

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I didn’t have class yesterday, and since the semester is so close to being over (T-minus 6 days!), I don’t have much schoolwork left. I decided to take my textbook to Chick-Fil-A and get a little reading done while I munched on my beloved Chick’n Strips Salad and a fruit cup. I thought of it as “Treat Yoself” day 😉

Turns out, I’m a complete flippin’ idiot. I pulled up to Chick-Fil-A at 12:10. The drive-thru line was wrapped doubly around the building. I almost thought I’d have to park at Sheetz and walk over when I finally spotted a teeny space wedged between two SUVs. I made a beeline for that mother and then dashed inside… only to realize that there were two available tables in the entire place. I was about tenth in line, so I could’ve been that incredibly rude customer who “reserves” a table using her suitcase-sized purse or some non-essential item of clothing, but I just couldn’t do that. I patiently waited my turn, barely being able to hear myself order over the thundering din of screaming toddlers and businessmen on Bluetooths. Somehow, I found a small booth by the window. As I dressed my fragrant salad with Honey Mustard and admired the freshness of my fruit cup, I noticed that the booth of college students — hulking, male college students — in front of me was holding hands with their eyes closed, saying a prayer.

I know it’s rude, but I couldn’t help but watch them as they quietly finished their prayer and went on about their meal. I was truly in awe that these guys would hold each others’ hands and pray in the middle of a crowded restaurant. I think I was also in awe because I knew I was about to do the same.

See, my family and I frequently pray at restaurants. Sometimes we hold hands, and sometimes we just lean in together. One of us says a few quiet words to bless our meal, and then we continue with our business. Each of us pretty much has a standard prayer when it’s our turn. Mine goes like this: Dear God, thank you for this food, and please keep us safe in our travels. Covers most of my bases, right? 😉

In my experience, there are two sticky things to consider when praying at restaurants: (1) whether any guests with us will feel uncomfortable if we pray, and (2) avoiding the waiter/waitress arriving to deliver food or refill drinks. While I shouldn’t have to compromise my values or beliefs for someone else, sometimes praying aloud is something we choose to forego if we’ve invited someone to dine with us who practices a different religion or someone we know we would be making uncomfortable. It’s not like my family is going to force a kumbaya circle, or insist that everyone go around and say five things for which they’re thankful, or enlist people to do a group Tebow in the middle of a crowded restaurant… We’re simply expressing our gratitude.

Honestly, I think it’s awesome when I see other young people praying in public. I’m not what most people would consider to be a conservative person, but it brings a smile to my heart when I witness other people sharing in their faith, unafraid that others might see them or judge them. I don’t believe in martyrdom or intentional showiness, but such a simple event can have such a profound ripple effect. I really wanted to shake those guys’ hands and tell them how cool I thought what they did was, but instead I just enjoyed what I witnessed, and I carried that happiness with me all day. They’ll never know the effect they had on me, but that’s one of the things I find coolest about faith.

Question: How does it make you feel when you see people praying in public?

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