Christian Do's & Don'ts - Lesson One: Lunch Prayer
Todays Lesson: Lunch Prayer
Christian-y people are often compelled to pray over their food in restaurants and fast food establishments---and mostly by other Christians, who happen to be dining with them. Or their nonChristian friends who know that they are Christian-y, and sort of expect them to, even if it's a bit awkward.
Here are some truisms...
Truth #1: When dining alone, Christian-y people will probably forego the lunch prayer. It's not that they aren't grateful to God for their food, it's just that they don't want people to think they are holier-than-thou, especially when they probably butted in front of someone in line to get their food or yelled at the counter crew for screwing up their order.
Truth #2: When dining alone at Chik-FilA, Christian-y people will at least bow their head and act like they are praying because they are more likely to encounter people who know they are Christian-y at Chik-FilA than most of their other dining choices. At Wendy's, for example, there are almost no Christians.
I can't back that last statement up, actually.
In the spirit of helpfulness, I offer the following tips to Christian-y folks so that they can navigate the choppy waters of praying for their lunch in public:
Tip #1 The Side Item Sample
It is permitted to sample some side items before praying, particularly if you are waiting for someone to get their food and sit down or if the person you are with is engaged in conversation with you and it appears they aren't ready to stop talking in order for grace to be offered. Chips are fair game, as are french fries. If you need to use a fork to sample the side item, it needs some grace before digging in. Consider finger food already blessed.
Tip #2 Brevity is Next To Godliness
Lunch prayer in public should be brief, and to the point. God is already aware that you are thankful for the day, and If you are dining with someone else, I am pretty sure that He's also aware that you are thankful for your friend and the fact that you are able to get together to eat, fellowship and share. You can leave these items out of your lunch prayer. Trust me, your friend will be grateful, and will be silently thanking God that you cut to the chase.
Tip #3 Don't Pray Like It's 1599
There is no need to offer up prayers that sound as though you are auditioning for Hamlet. Thou art not impressing anyone with thy command of King James' English, my friend. You merely sound like a doofus. God understands American just fine. Just talk to Him.
Tip #4 There's No Need to Shout
Raising your voice to a dull roar as you offer grace is not cool. I get that you are not ashamed of the Gospel, Jesus, being a Christian and sounding like a pompous poop head. Jesus told this whole story about a guy who prayed really loud so everyone could hear him. He wasn't the good guy in the story. Just use a normal speaking voice.
Tip #5 Bow Your Head & Close Your Eyes
What. You thought I was going to let you completely off the hook? Show some reverence, and don't be afraid of being seen. God digs it when we're humble.
Tip #6: Expect to See Jesus
You think that that you're confused, I know. You thought you just read, "Expect to see Jesus." Your eyes did not deceive you. You did read that. Here's the thing, every time that Christian-y people gather for a meal it is an opportunity to break bread, and to remember Jesus. And when we do this together, we can "see" him if we are willing.
And we can thank him for saving us, rescuing Creation...
and for the food---all at once.
God IS great, God IS good, and so you need to THANK him for your food.