"Praying in a Coffee Shop" - Monday Moment - July 11, 2022


Happy Monday, friends! As many of you already know, I like to pray. I consider prayer to be a form of meditation and a conversation between me, God, and whoever else might be listening. Growing up we were taught and had to memorize the great prayers of the Roman Catholic tradition:


Our Father, who art in heaven…

Hail Mary full of grace…

Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy…

Glory be to…

St. Michael the Archangel…

Bless us o Lord…

I believe in God the Father almighty…


Whether in church or school, prayers seemed to either be recited from memory or read from a book. As a young church musician, I learned that singing was praying twice. As a teenager I learned how to pray the Divine Office utilizing a rotation of the Psalms, readings from the Bible, and classic hymns. At Sewanee I learned several more prayers in the Anglican tradition:


Keep watch dear Lord…

Lord, now let thou thy servant depart in peace…

My soul doth magnify the Lord…


We didn’t pray at home. Yes, my parents were appropriately pious by American Catholic standards, but they passed down a certain hesitation for public piety, even in front of their children. We never prayed before meals at restaurants unless we were treating the parish’s religious sisters to a meal. Then we dutifully waited for one of the sisters to initiate a prayer (more than a few awkward moments told the sisters all they needed to know about our habits of prayer).


I was in college before I heard someone pray spontaneously without beginning or ending with a memorized prayer. I kept my head bowed, even after the “amen,”* waiting for concluding memorized portion. What was prayer if it hadn’t been translated from Latin and passed down for several generations?


As an adult I’m still self-conscious about praying in public, but as LOVEboldly’s executive director I often meet with people who have no such qualms. Last week I was having coffee with a friend and finally let myself just pray with him (without opening my eyes every few seconds to see who may be looking at us). I’m still learning to pray in public including in coffee shops.


Prayer need not be memorized, and prayer need not be gushing with Elizabethan poetry (yes, Anglicans, I’m looking at you). Prayer can be silent. Prayer can be simple, and prayer can be prophetic. Prayer can come from a place of deep emotion and even fear.


Friends, what is your background of prayer? Is prayer important in your life? Where and under what circumstances do you feel comfortable to pray?


Let us pray a prayer we all know: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed it be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

(Everyone except the Roman Catholics): For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Blessing on your week, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.


Faithfully,


Ben


*Among English-speaking, American Roman Catholics “amen” is pronounced with a long “A” whereas most English-speaking American non-Roman Catholics “amen” using a short “A.”