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Praying In Public


Neon Genesis
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I don't know if this is is off topic or should be split off, but one thing I never understood about Christian prayer was why do some Christians always feel the need to pray in public in the most visible way possible? Like sometimes when we're eating out at the restaurant, we'll see someone praying in the table and everyone at the table will get up and hold hands to pray and stuff. What do they think they're accomplishing by praying like that? Do they think they're going to convert any heathens that happen to be in the restaurant at the same time to Christianity? I don't know why they can't just pray in private like Jesus commanded in Matthew chapter five. It just seems like an extravagant way of saying "Look at how holy we are! See how devoted we are in our prayer?!"

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I don't know if this is is off topic or should be split off, but one thing I never understood about Christian prayer was why do some Christians always feel the need to pray in public in the most visible way possible? Like sometimes when we're eating out at the restaurant, we'll see someone praying in the table and everyone at the table will get up and hold hands to pray and stuff. What do they think they're accomplishing by praying like that? Do they think they're going to convert any heathens that happen to be in the restaurant at the same time to Christianity? I don't know why they can't just pray in private like Jesus commanded in Matthew chapter five. It just seems like an extravagant way of saying "Look at how holy we are! See how devoted we are in our prayer?!"

 

I agree Neon. Whilst I think some do it to show-off in a sense, I think others may do it because they feel they are 'standing up' for God in this evil world - "They're not afraid to worship God even in a secular restaurant, and they're going to show you that". Possibly others genuinely do it because they believe they are showing God the utmost respect. And I'm sure many are quietly hoping that their 'witness' will help win souls from Satan.

 

But like you, what I don't get is why some Christians don't follow Jesus' commands concerning prayer. Like you mention, Jesus says to pray in private, to pray the Lord's prayer (I don't think he meant literally, but conceptually), and even says don't bother asking God for stuff because God knows what you need even before you ask. So why ask at all? It seems contradictory to me and I don't think I've ever heard a Christian explain why they don't adhere to Jesus' instruction.

 

Cheers

Paul

Edited by PaulS
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Some likely pray that way because they're used to it.

 

Some likely pray that way to be an example to others and convert.

 

Some likely pray that way because they feel close to one another.

 

Some likely pray that way because they are moved in the moment by the Spirit.

 

What does it matter?

 

In all honesty, I find some of these comments a little condescending. I understand that for some folks here, prayer/God etc are simply archaic, backwards, without meaning, but to assume that people who pray out loud do it to antagonize/show off/one-up is a bit hostile. For some, eating without giving thanks is not an option, even in public. Praying together as a family or group of friends can be a beautiful thing. They aren't hurting anyone. And considering the table manners a lot of people seem to lack these days, I can think of worse things to witness at a restaurant.

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I am with Joseph on this subject. If some of the people I am eating with want to say Grace before eating, either at home or in a restaurant, then I will join them. I have no quarrel with what ways other people want to practice their faith. It does not offend me and I do not want to offend them.

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Raven,

 

I think you bring up some good and valid reasons why some people do pray in public.

 

However, i don't see any condescending attitude in some of the other peoples comments. Perhaps they were merely bringing up specifics that they have observed and don't understand what that group (such as the specific group mentioned but not all) hope to accomplish by such a dramatic public display as described in the restaurant. Also i don't think anyone here in their post(s) is saying that "prayer/God etc are simply archaic, backwards, without meaning" . I don't think there was anything personal in the posts other than poster observations / opinions as it seems the opinion of some is that prayer as instructed by Jesus should be more private than public.

 

As halinsalem, I am not offended by other peoples reasons or the ways other people practice or for that matter do not practice their faith by prayer whether public or private. I am not harmed by either.

 

Joseph

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Joseph,

 

My aplogoes. Some of the other comments rubbed me the wrong way. When I see and interact with other people, I don't like to assume the worst parts of them - I wouldn't them to do it to me, either. Personally I would hate to live in a way that saw me view people that way - look at them praying, the show-offs! I prefer to think that most people are approaching God in a way that works for them, regardless of whether it works for me.

 

It's important to remember that people who do things differently are not automatically bad or doing something wrong. I didn't get from a lot of comments that people remembered that.

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Wow! It's happened. The main page of ProgressiveChristianity has changed. I like it.

 

"O God

We have said, “Your word is a lamp for our feet, a light for our path.”

Sometimes it seems more like a flickering candle.

 

We ask for your presence tonight with us here in this place.

We ask for wisdom as we discuss difficult issues.

We ask for the bright light of your truth to shine in our hearts and minds, that our worship of You may include our intellects as well as our love. Amen."

 

I'm home again.

 

Myron

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It doesn't matter if people pray or talk on their cell phone, but they should be considerate to others. We don't like it when someone is talking in a loud obnoxious manner on the phone so the same should be applied to prayer.

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I agree Neon. Whilst I think some do it to show-off in a sense, I think others may do it because they feel they are 'standing up' for God in this evil world - "They're not afraid to worship God even in a secular restaurant, and they're going to show you that". Possibly others genuinely do it because they believe they are showing God the utmost respect. And I'm sure many are quietly hoping that their 'witness' will help win souls from Satan.

And some - I never know which ones unless it is everyone on my mothers side of the family - would think that not saying grace is like not preparing the food. Saying grace for them, wherever it is, just happens - it always has.

 

In my experience few, if any, have made a public statement, with their table grace. Just as I don't think the orthodox Jews walking to synagogue are making a public statement or that the Muslim woman wearing an hijab is making a public statement. If you have heard someone praying for the sinners in the restaurant - well that's different.

 

 

Dutch

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And some - I never know which ones unless it is everyone on my mothers side of the family - would think that not saying grace is like not preparing the food. Saying grace for them, wherever it is, just happens - it always has.

 

In my experience few, if any, have made a public statement, with their table grace. Just as I don't think the orthodox Jews walking to synagogue are making a public statement or that the Muslim woman wearing an hijab is making a public statement. If you have heard someone praying for the sinners in the restaurant - well that's different.

 

 

Dutch

So why don't they just do it in the car before they walk into the restaurant? You know if a Muslim family got up and started praying around the table in a restaurant that most of the same Christians praying at their own tables would be outraged about how offensive it was to them.
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Interventionist prayer seems to be the most popular form of prayer in Christianity but there is a tradition of centering prayer in Christianity you might be interested in, Norm: http://www.centeringprayer.com/

 

From the link:

 

The effects of Centering Prayer are ecclesial, as the prayer tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love.

 

I can get down with that (except the part about the indwelling of the trinity). Kind of reminds me of transcendental meditation.

 

NORM

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What does it matter?

 

In all honesty, I find some of these comments a little condescending. I understand that for some folks here, prayer/God etc are simply archaic, backwards, without meaning, but to assume that people who pray out loud do it to antagonize/show off/one-up is a bit hostile. For some, eating without giving thanks is not an option, even in public. Praying together as a family or group of friends can be a beautiful thing. They aren't hurting anyone. And considering the table manners a lot of people seem to lack these days, I can think of worse things to witness at a restaurant.

This seems like a good reason to me:
‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Edited by Neon Genesis
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Why don't you eat your appetizer and have your drink in the car?

I don't even know what this has to do with the conversation. Why don't you go to church if you want to pray in front of others so badly? Edited by Neon Genesis
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Raven,

 

I think you bring up some good and valid reasons why some people do pray in public.

 

However, i don't see any condescending attitude in some of the other peoples comments. Perhaps they were merely bringing up specifics that they have observed and don't understand what that group (such as the specific group mentioned but not all) hope to accomplish by such a dramatic public display as described in the restaurant. Also i don't think anyone here in their post(s) is saying that "prayer/God etc are simply archaic, backwards, without meaning" . I don't think there was anything personal in the posts other than poster observations / opinions as it seems the opinion of some is that prayer as instructed by Jesus should be more private than public.

 

As halinsalem, I am not offended by other peoples reasons or the ways other people practice or for that matter do not practice their faith by prayer whether public or private. I am not harmed by either.

 

Joseph

 

I would like to second that, in case you were wondering about my comments, Raven.

 

Certainly some do pray in public out of a genuine love for God. But I think we have all come across windbags that pray to make a point to onlookers/listeners (I think this was the case even in Jesus' day). I am curious whether people standing around a table holding hands and praying in a restaurant, are doing so as a way of genuinely giving thanks to God, or are they trying to make a point? Of course it could be the former, although I am sure there are many that would fit the latter. I personally have seen several that I am convinced fall into the latter category. But if it is the former, then I would still like to understand why they don't feel it is neccessary to adhere to Jesus' instructions about not praying in public and making a display of it?

 

Just for the record, although I don't pray specifically myself, I don't think of prayer as either archaic, backwards, and/or without meaning. I belive it has meaning in some way to the people doing it, I think it may even possibly have some 'connection' to the universe, but I don't want to start sounding all new-agey.

 

I hope you understand perhaps where I am coming from, without any offence.

 

Cheers

Paul

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I am curious whether people standing around a table holding hands and praying in a restaurant, are doing so as a way of genuinely giving thanks to God, or are they trying to make a point? Of course it could be the former, although I am sure there are many that would fit the latter.

 

Why not give them the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions? Besides, why should we care unless they are being disruptive in some way?

 

George

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Why not give them the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions? Besides, why should we care unless they are being disruptive in some way?

 

George

 

Well, I guess I am just curious, George.

 

But I don't really care enough about the matter than to do what I have already done here - Make a couple of comments in discussion, and leave it at that.

 

Cheers

Paul

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Paul,

 

Sorry if that came across a little confrontational. It wasn't intended - I meant it more rhetorically. It is perfectly fine, in my opinion, to comment about what we observe and try to understand it (I am often guilty of this myself).

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW
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Why don't you eat your appetizer and have your drink in the car?
I don't even know what this has to do with the conversation. Why don't you go to church if you want to pray in front of others so badly?

My mother's family considers grace such an integral part of the meal that it would be like eating part of the meal in the car if they didn't say grace when the meal was about to be served or was served.

 

‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others.

I understand this to refer to a particular kind of public prayer not any public prayer.

 

Dutch

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I have a hard time imagining that Jesus would object to a table grace said in front of others. However, I think the louder and more conspicuous it is in a public place, the closer it would come to violating his prescription.

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW
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Paul,

 

I was particularly offended by you - sorry if it came across that way. And yes, there are windbags out there of all sorts. I do agree that there are some people who are possibly doing things (for example, praying in public) for reasons other than a truly spiritual connection. In those cases, I feel they are overstepping an etiquette (stop trying to convert people!) and should think twice. I have members of my family who do this, and it is not really appropriate.

 

However, I see no harm in saying Grace in a restaurant, or praying publicly in a park or something, as long as it's done respectfully to both God and the other people around.

 

I grew up in, and still live in, a wildly multicultural area. I have been exposed to people praying in many languages, in many fashions, in many locations, to many Gods/higher powers/etc for as long as I can remember. It honestly does not even blip my radar. When I hear/see people pray in public, I reflect for a second that it is nice to see people expressing their faith, and I move along. I see nothing offensive in that at all. When I am with people of other religions who pray out loud (at meal time, or at a particular prayer time) I will sit quietly, perhaps say my own prayer, and not make a fuss about it.

 

Someone else (I forget who) made a suggestion that people should pray in their cars before they eat - that, to me, was a very offensive statement. People should not have to hide their faith just to put other people at ease. It smacks of "seperate but equal," and reminds of people who claim they're not homophobic as long as everything stays in the bedroom. We have the right to pray or not pray as we see fit, both politically (assuming no one here is in a country that says otherwise) and religiously/personally. To tell people to go pray outside, lest they offend your ears, is quite narrow.

 

And yes, I second whomever said that there is a difference between praying loudly in the streets for attention, and praying in public in earnest connection. Some may pray in the streets to cause a scene and puff themselves up, but others may pray in the street because they feel moved in the moment and wish to respond to it. Let's not lump everyone in together.

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My mother's family considers grace such an integral part of the meal that it would be like eating part of the meal in the car if they didn't say grace when the meal was about to be served or was served.

 

 

I understand this to refer to a particular kind of public prayer not any public prayer.

 

Dutch

Jesus doesn't say anywhere here that it's with a specific type of public prayer. He very clearly says to go into your closet and pray in secret and God will reward you for it. I don't see how my suggestion is any more offensive than anything Jesus says in the gospels about praying in public. I'm not suggesting a separate but equal situation because I'm not proposing any laws to ban prayer in public or anything that extreme. I merely think it is inappropriate behavior in a public secular place that's supposed to be welcoming to everyone like a restaurant to turn it into your own private church. It would be like if I went to your church wearing a Marilyn Manson tshirt that had lots of foul language on it. I could say it's my freedom of speech to wear a tshirt with cuss words to your church and you have no right to tell me not to wear it to your church but that doesn't mean I'm not being a jerk if I were to wear a tshirt with cuss words to your church. Edited by Neon Genesis
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