Prayer In-Law

Well, my in-laws are in town.

And you know what that means, right?

Well, no, you probably don’t.  I mean, there are a slew of stereotypes about dealing with “the in-laws”, but we always enjoy our time together.   They like to sight-see and we like to sight-see.  They like to clean our kitchen and fix our ice maker, and we like to let them.   Even their tiny schnauzer and our half-lab seem to get along, most of the time.

They love to eat at new restaurants, and we love to eat at new restaurants.  However, that’s where the problem creeps up.   You see… my in-laws are pray-ers.

And hand holders.

There we are, in some hip, happening place, and our food has finally arrived, and the waiter is hovering nearby, and my mother-in-law will reach out her hands, and we’ll all join together, and my father-in-law will say a prayer.   Not some expedient “God is great, God is good” prayer, but a real prayer about people, and having a good day together, and for the sake of the world.

Don’t they know people are watching?  We’re making a spectacle of ourselves!  I try my hardest to pay attention to the words of the prayer, all the while wondering what other people are thinking.  I confess I feel relief when we finally get to the “Amen”.

We had been doing so good to fit in. Up until that moment we were just like everybody else.  But with this public display of prayer, we’ve made it clear to anyone who asks:  We’re Christians, loud and proud.  I think it’s funny that of the four of us sitting there holding hands, the two that might be the most uncomfortable are the two pastors!

And what of the people there, watching?   What about the waiter, or the people at the next table?   Are they rolling their eyes at us?  Are they making judgements about us being that kind of Christian?   Well, maybe.

They may also be intrigued.   Maybe they go to church, too, or used to.   Hmm.  Isn’t it in the realm of possibility that our waiter will go home tonight and remember to invite his son to say his prayers before bed?  Isn’t it possible that the woman at the next table will find herself taking a deep breath tomorrow morning while stuck in traffic, reminded to open herself up to God?

Wow.  Just when I start to lose sight of the power of prayer, my wife’s crazy parents come back to town and remind me.    It seems like such a little thing, praying in public, but a simple act of devotion can send ripples across the whole world.   Or at least a whole restaurant.

Some say it takes faith to stand up in front of a congregation and preach a sermon.

To them I say, “That’s nothing…

Have you met my in-laws?”

Have a great week,

Mitch

4 thoughts on “Prayer In-Law

  1. I can so identify…my parents do this when we go out and we all 4 react the same. The difference is that we have to take turns with the prayer, regardless of whether we are out or at home…if it’s your turn, it’s your turn. The problem is that it feels forced…

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  2. I have to add here that while I marked that I pray for meals, I often forget. When I remember, I do so, no matter who is watching. My struggle is if I am asked to be the one praying. Spontanious prayer out loud is WAY out of my comfort zone!

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  3. On my best days I can turn my inner dialog off and just commune. On good days my inner dialog is a continuing prayerful conversation with God. My worst days? Let’s not go there!! 🙂

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