Should You Pray in Public?
A lot of people want to separate our lives- work during the week and have fun on the weekend. Or, pray on Sunday morning and watch football on Sunday afternoon. It’s as if we have various “buckets” that we do things in and there is no crossover from one bucket to the next.
Except that that’s a fallacy which, if we’re honest, we know isn’t our experience. For example, if we are upset about something in the morning before we go to work, chances are we are going to be affected during the day. Or, if you fall in love, this sense of intimacy with your lover is going to be with you throughout your week.
In other words, we live one life rather than a series of separated lives. Pope Paul VI called this the “unity of life”- a synchronized experience of letting God into all parts of our busy schedules.
This brings us to today’s question- should you pray in public? The answer is YES. Let me share a story of something that happened to me recently on a plane. Across the aisle from me was a Jewish man and he was saying his morning prayers. I was moved by how seriously he took his prayer and how reverent he was about it. If he can pray in public, with leather bands around his head and his hands, surely a Christian can do the same. We can bring our “unified life” with us, even into public.
How can you do this? Here are some suggestions:
1. Pray before a meal. Make the sign of the cross, pause for a moment, and thank God for the gift of sustenance.
2. Pray when you see a car accident. Turn off the radio and pray, out loud, a prayer for the person involved.
3. Pray when you travel. Before you start the car, get on the bus or hop a flight, pray silently that God will provide you with a safe journey.
These are just three ways that you can pray in public and here’s the good news- no one will make fun of you or persecute you. It’s ok and it’s good.