(I love a good post about prayer and I think you’ll dig this guest spot from Joel. Enjoy!)
In the past, Jon has talked about prayer shot blocks, that awkward moment where someone prays the opposite of what you are praying for. Example: Someone prays God will bless a bad dating relationship they are in and their friend prays right after instead that “God would give my friend patience and clarity about her relationship.”
But there’s a different type of prayer shot block that needs to be discussed. I’m talking about people who refuse to pray in public when you go out to dinner as a group. Whether they politely decline or flat out shot block your request that they pray, they make it crystal clear that they won’t be doing that. It’s the prayer equivalent of switching seats on an airplane because you can’t handle the “responsibility” of being in the emergency row.
There are six common ways people get out of praying at dinner:
1. They wait you out.
They quietly put their hands in their lap, in the dinner prayer posture. They make direct eye contact and try Jedi-like mind tricks on you. “You want to pray for this meal.” Eventually they hope you will cave and offer thanks. Beware of this move, especially if you are prone to discomfort during silence.
2. They shove food in their mouth the millisecond it hits the table.
Be careful if they choose a food that doesn’t go down quick such as soup or mashed potatoes. Bread works best. They’ll throw in as big a piece as they can manage without choking. Innocently they will put their hand up to their mouth and grumble “Oh, I forgot to pray.” Now prayer is out there on the table (along with all their spittle and crumbs), and you have no choice but to offer thanks. Unless, of course, you have a super-human ability to wait out long awkward pauses.
3. They take a phone call or go to the bathroom
This move is executed right before the food arrives. However, Christian etiquette should demand you wait for their prodigal return and this may only delay, not pass the prayer.
4. They invite the pastor to dinner.
He or she is the pray-er by default because of the deep spiritual wealth that goes with the calling. But is this third wheel (or fifth, in the case of a double date) worth it to get out of prayer awkwardness? WARNING: Pastors are known to employ all of the techniques found in this guide.
5. They have a child pray.
They have not yet developed a sense of prayer-fear in social settings. It’s going to be cute no matter what. Plus mom and dad get to show-off what good Christian parents they are. That’s a win-win situation right there my friend.
6. They ask the other person to do it.
Doubly effective if they call them out by name. “Mike, would you like to offer a prayer for our meal?” Triply effective if they are a pastor; the other person will feel obliged to give them a break from their day job. I double-dog dare you to be this bold when the check comes.
Am I missing any? How have you passed the prayer? How have you had the prayer passed to you?
(For more great stuff from Joel, check out his site.)