Is prayer appropriate in public?

I’ve heard that Gandhi was once quoted as saying: “I don’t reject Christ. It’s just that so many Christians are so unlike Christ.”

Another variation of this quote is: “I would suggest first of all that all of you Christians and missionaries and everyone begin to live more like Jesus Christ.” Whether Gandhi said this or not, it’s a valid observation given where we are in society today.

So how can Christians start acting more Christ-like? Perhaps folding our hands in prayer more regularly would be a good place to start.

As Catholics and Christians we should do more praying—not just in church, but in restaurants or dinner parties or even while working out at the gym. I often see families saying prayers in restaurants before sitting down for their meals.

I find myself feeling very humbled that a family would chose to pray before their dinner just as they would do at home. I feel very comfortable if I’m invited to pray with someone else in a similar setting. One woman said, “If I say prayers with my family before meals at home, why would we not say thanks before meals elsewhere?”

“The Assertive Atheist” commented as follows: “Public prayer is not only embarrassingly inappropriate, it is a direct defiance of the alleged words of the alleged son of the alleged creator of the universe. (Matthew 5: 5-6)

Public displays have less to do with petitioning god than with impressing bystanders.”(As a side note, I do find it thought-provoking that atheists appear intent on quoting the Bible when making their points.)

Richard J. Mauw writes in his book Praying at Burger King: My restaurant prayers are opportunities for me to pause and remind myself there is a God whose mercy reaches out to me even when I’m sitting in a fast food booth with noisy kids running past me.

I have a tendency to get so busy with what is right in front of me that I can ‘forget’ God. I need these times to remember that God is the center of all things. Continue reading

  • Catherine (Cathy) Mendenhall-Baugh works as an insurance agent in Portland, Ore.
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