I have never before done this in public, in front of strangers, without knowing how they'd react. I didn't even realize the words were about to come out of my mouth when I began to speak and share something that has divided people for centuries.
Now that I've got your attention, let me set the scene. I found myself at a fancy catered event. The organizers invited me to serve as a guest judge at this educational leadership event (one of the perks of being an education reporter, I guess).
I had only met the strangers seated at my table 20 minutes earlier, and I did not bring a guest with me. Those strangers by the way were an eclectic group, among them a retired teacher, a public relations coordinator, a marketing specialist, and a state lawmaker.
We were having great conversation when our gourmet dinner arrived. I felt very comfortable with everyone at the table and noticed the gentleman to my left close his eyes and bow his head, but look up again lightning fast.
I knew he must be saying a quick blessing, and I started to do the same. Then, out of my mouth came the words, do you mind if I pray... OUT LOUD. Yes, of course, please were just some of the responses I received from the table.
Everyone at my table bowed their heads and closed their eyes as I began to pray. We were surrounded by several other full tables and you could hear the buzz of conversation all around us. I'm sure we stood out to anyone surveying the room.
I asked God to bless the food, the time we would fellowship with each other, and the students we had just watched present projects showing off their leadership skills. I thanked God for allowing us to witness the students' desire to give to their community and share what they accomplished. All of this in a strong, clear voice, with a well pronounced AMEN.
Now, I'm not shy, but I'm also not normally that aggressive in a crowd of strangers, but I didn't feel embarrassed or concerned how anyone would react, just good. The politician thanked me and the teacher said, "I really appreciate that. I'm always too worried about being politically correct."
The conversation that followed was upbeat and friendly. I left feeling good that I had come to the event. Prayer is so powerful, and I know it's an area I am weak in.
I'm glad I was convicted to pray in public for the first time on this day, and I might just do it again. I know in some situations, because of my very public persona, it would be frowned upon. After all we don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but I trust God will not lead me astray.
I passed a church sign today that simply read, "7 days without prayer makes one weak." Enough said.