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Thread: One person--ONE--insists on group prayer before family events

  1. #1
    MissMuffins's Avatar
    MissMuffins is offline Senior Member
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    One person--ONE--insists on group prayer before family events

    My mother makes a big deal out of everyone holding hands and praying before family events. Thankfully, Christian versus other forms of spirituality isn't an issue; everyone identifies as Christian, but are members of different Christian sects.

    It doesn't bother me that she wants to give thanks; what bugs me is that when she is not the hostess, she makes sure to bring it up and ensures all activity ceases until she's led prayer.

    Praying before meals is not something most members of the extended family typically do. Two aunts in particular had prayer before meals when the dinner was in their homes. The only times I recall praying before dinner during holidays at my grandparents' and other family members' homes are when my mother--who was not the hostess--made sure we all prayed as a group before the meal was served. To me, if she's not the hostess or hasn't been asked by the hostess to do so, she shouldn't take it upon herself to initiate/institute group prayer.

    The fact that we didn't routinely have prayer before meals during my childhood, nor is it a practice she and my father have begun in the 20+ years since my sister and I left home, factors into it. While I appreciate her passion for Jesus and realize I need to not be judgmental of her, to me this feels like a staged semi-public spectacle and everyone is pressured into participating.

    It's my opinion that if she wants to give thanks, she should do so...individually. If she wants to invite others who are seated nearby to join her, that's fine. But bringing an entire event to a standstill and essentially guilt-tripping all present into joining her in prayer is irritating.

    I feel like I'm being forced to be her kind of Christian, rather than the kind of Christian I feel is right for me.

    By contrast:
    1) My friends of all faiths who routinely give thanks before meals in public or in the homes of others do so quietly. It's just a quick pause at table, after they've dished up (or been served) and before they begin to eat. It feels sincere, and like it's something they do because that's their habit and not because they want or need to make a production of it.
    2) When I was going through the series of classes to prepare for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (the name of the rite when an adult joins the Roman Catholic church), our instruction was that we weren't to force our observance/practice upon others. In the event one should find oneself a guest at an event where group prayer isn't part of the program, one should pray privately. In the event one should find oneself at a celebration during a fast, it's preferable to break fast and partake of the celebration rather than call attention to the fact one is observing a fast.

    Any advice toward helping me choose a mindful response? Because I'm totally aware that I'm choosing to let this bother me. ga!

    MM
    "Our past is a story existing only in our minds. Look, analyze, understand, and forgive. Then, as quickly as possible, chuck it." ~ Marianne Williamson

  2. #2
    SheLikesKitties's Avatar
    SheLikesKitties is offline OW/YM 21YR GAP
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    My mother does too, now that she is older, while she did not do it while I was growing up.

    The way I understand the difference, is that now it is time to give thanks not so much for the food but for the fact that the family is together, (that she is invited to be part of a family event) which does not happen regularly.

    It does not bother me, except that most of the time people have already started munching on something, and we have to stop, and swallow, before we pray. It only takes less than a minute. I do not mind. Several of my friends give thanks privately, and all the same I stop eating while they are obviously praying (in silence).

    If it was going to become a sermon it would bother me.
    You know it's love when the pain of being apart is greater than the pain of being together.

  3. #3
    pinkunicorn's Avatar
    pinkunicorn is offline Senior Member
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    In my family (Roman Catholic), we didn't routinely pray at the dinner table. Heck, many times we ended up getting our plates and eating in the living room while watching a favorite TV show! But when we would get together for special meals/celebrations such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc., then Grandma would lead us all in a short prayer before we ate. When I was little, we would all join hands. But as everyone's gotten older, and especially after all of us "kids" have begun marrying and having families of our own, we still have the short prayer, but we don't join hands anymore. Heck, most of the time we aren't even in the same room--we all wouldn't fit! Some are in the kitchen, some are in the dining room, some are in the living room, and there are usually people hanging out downstairs, too.

    Many people in my husband's family, OTOH, are not religious/spiritual. But some are. So there really isn't any routine prayer. But even so, if there is a large family gathering, we have a "moment of silence" before the mealtime. This way, those who want to pray can do so (quietly), others have no problem waiting in respectful silence.

    The problem comes when someone feels forced into praying in a way that they are not comfortable with--such as the case with MM and her mom. It turns into a case of "pick your battles." Is it worth the potential fallout to take a stand and say, "No, I won't be pressured into doing a big group prayer because I don't honor Jesus like that."? Or would this be an instance that would be better to humor her and hold hands while she does a quick "Bless us o Lord for these thy gifts...." Or even a lengthy "Thank you for these peas, Brotha Jesus. Let your praise rain down on the farmers who grew them so that we may enjoy them. And thank you for this turkey that gave up his life so that we may feast upon its flesh..."

    Only you can discern that, MM.
    Never try to fit in when you are meant to stand out.


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