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Question

 

Hi Gramps,

Is it necessary to say prayer/grace when dinning in a restaurant or cafe etc?   Thank you.

Elva

 

Answer

 

Hi Elva,

A few years ago I answered a similar question but very briefly.   Should we pray for food in a public setting?

This is a very common question that many people have wondered.  The angst seems to be over two things.

  • Will others think I’m weird for doing so?
  • Will I be doing it to “show off” or “wear my religion on my sleeve?”

If you’re avoiding public prayer because you’re afraid of what others think of you, we need to remember the counsel Nephi gave to his brethren.

And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.   2 Nephi 32:8

On the other hand, the Savior warns against wearing one’s religion on one’s sleeve saying:

1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

 

2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

 

4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

 

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  Matthew 6:1-6

And we don’t want to do that either.  But certainly there is a balance to be had.

Some people I’ve known pray before they leave for a restaurant.  Others pray in the car, just outside the restaurant.  Others make sure they say a prayer in their hearts. But there is one family that I know that shared a pleasant experience.

They went into a restaurant — a quiet out-of-the-way place.  They only saw one other table occupied.  As the food arrived, they all bowed their heads and tried to be as quiet as possible as they prayed over their food.

The elderly ladies at the other occupied table were overheard saying:

Did you see what that family just did?

 

What did they do?

 

They just bowed their heads and said grace together.

 

Wow, you don’t see that too much these days.

Now I would wonder, why don’t people do that anymore?  Is it really because we’re trying to not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing?  Or are we publicly shamed into not praying?

The real question is: what is your motive for praying or not praying?  If you’re doing it to be seen of men, then STOP IT!

But if your decision to NOT pray is because you feel ashamed, is that the great and spacious building mocking you into dropping the fruit and going off into the mists of darkness?  I don’t know the answer to that.  So, I can’t answer your question directly.  But I think I’ve given enough food for thought (pun intended) that you can answer it for yourself.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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