And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. – Acts 20:36
When you were young, were taught this simple prayer? I know I was. Perhaps, we have taught our children this prayer to “say grace” before a meal.
God is Great,
And God is Good,
Now we thank Him,
For this food.
Practicing “public” prayer is incredibly valuable. Whether it’s a prayer with others around a kitchen table or prayer at our local church to close a Sunday school class, people need to learn how others pray, and we need to be comfortable praying in public.
One of the things my wife and did, and still do, when we go to a restaurant (yes, they’re open in my state), is to hold hands to form a circle with everyone at our table. Then one of respectfully, but verbally prays that God will bless this time of fellowship and the food we are about to partake.
When we have friends with us, I am often surprised that some mature Christians are uncomfortable with this outward display of our faith. This unease comes from recent shifts in our society.
Unease is a New Thing
I’m old enough to remember when most people “said grace” over their meals. Unfortunately, in our misguided quest to not say something that might be contrary to another person’s beliefs, we have squelched the only One that can give a person eternal life.
I’ve prayed, in public, with people in China. I’ve prayed in public when Hindus from India were at my table. Guess what. I asked. They were not upset. (It might be different now in China.)
Christianity was Considered a Cult
When we consider Acts 20:36, we find that Paul and a rather large group of people knelt on the beach, in public, and prayed. During the time of the apostle Paul, Christianity was considered a cult. The Roman Empire had dictated that the official religion was polytheistic, based on Greco-Roman gods’ pantheon.
When Paul knelt to pray, he was doing something very foreign to nearly everyone at the ship’s dock, but that didn’t hinder Paul or the fellow Christians with him. This public display of Christianity is because Jesus commissioned them, and us:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
We Need to Tell Our Story
We must always be gentle, humble, compassionate, and respectful when we tell our testimony and the Good News of Jesus. Still, we must speak. It is imperative that we walk our faith and not withhold anything that points others to Jesus.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” – Luke 6:22