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  • Writer's pictureMark Alan Williams

Unexpected Ways It Pays To Pray

Just for fun Carolyn and I recently went on a midweek overnight trip to Julian, California. We stayed in the historic Julian Gold Rush Hotel Bed and Breakfast. (Carolyn got a killer deal!)

Lake Cuyamaca hike

At the breakfast in the parlor, there were only three other people and none of them were talking. Our food came and it was time to pray. This is our custom since it was Jesus’ practice (see Matthew 14:19-21; Luke 24:30).

Since it was so quiet, I was pretty sure we would be overheard.

This kind of situation used to give me anxiety, but now I see it as an opportunity to share our faith. So I went for it. I also made sure to end my prayer with, “in Jesus name I pray, amen.”

I figure that you never know who your prayer might bless, or challenge, or what kind of a witness it might be.

Sometimes these prayers have had a surprising impact.

We were enjoying the lovely breakfast when suddenly one of the three people got up and came over and stood by our table. She asked, “Excuse me, but I was wondering if you two are born again Christians?” We affirmed that we are and introduced ourselves. Her name was Katie. She explained that she was hoping that we would be willing to pray for a relationship problem she was having.

By the way, if you don’t know what it means to be a “born again” Christian, I hope you’ll find out by clicking here.

We chatted with Katie for a while, and at the end we prayed for her, right there at our table.

Not only did we have the joy of praying over Katie, in the midst of chatting she told us about a hike around nearby Lake Cuyamaca. It turned out to be one of the best hikes we’ve ever taken. It was gorgeous and in addition we saw a momma deer with her fawns and many beautiful birds.

This experience affirmed what I have been learning: It pays to pray before meals, even when strangers can hear every word you are saying!

Several years ago we had another surprising experience. We were celebrating our anniversary on an overnight in San Clemente, California by the pier—a beautiful spot. At breakfast, at a sidewalk seating restaurant, we said our usual prayer of thanksgiving for God’s provision.

That particular day we also somehow got started quietly singing a few old familiar hymns. I think we might have sung “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “Amazing Grace.”

Nobody said anything and I figured that if anyone noticed, they probably thought we were just a couple of beachside oddballs.

We thoroughly enjoyed our sidewalk breakfast. Then, when it was time to leave, the waitress said with a smile, “Well, you don’t owe anything today. The people at the table beside you paid your bill!”

We were dumbfounded. We hadn’t much noticed the people around us. When asked who they were, the waitress pointed to a younger couple walking away, already halfway down the street.

Wow. It pays to pause to pray.

On many occasions we have been in restaurants and admiringly watched people at other tables bow their heads and pray. It is always an encouragement to our faith to see others publically practice theirs.

What does it do when we pause to pray before we eat—even in public places? Here are my thoughts:

It honors Jesus’ practice of prayer before partaking.

It cultivates gratitude in our hearts and perhaps others.

It helps us maintain consistency between our private and public lives.

It is a small witness to our faith, when we pray in Jesus name.

That’s my take on the subject. Can anybody say “amen?”

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy “Five Keys to Stay Happily Married for 34 Years.”

Question: Have you had any interesting experiences praying in public or seeing others do so? Leave a comment below. (It is easy with this site, no code words, etc.)

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