Public Prayer

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  Praying before a meal is common in many faiths. It’s an act, however, that is sometimes stifled at public restaurants. A United Methodist congregation is trying to change that, one table at a time.  
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Public Prayer – Script:

Natsound (praying at table): “Lord, we thank you so much …”

Praying over a meal, especially in public, has become a rare sight.

The Rev. Tom Sorrell, Epworth United Methodist Church, Jackson, Miss.: “A lot of times people feel conspicuous when they say a prayer at a table.”

To combat the awkwardness, this United Methodist minister composed seven nonsectarian prayers that sit on restaurant tables beside the salt and pepper.

Tom Sorrell: “I don’t think they have to pray. Not everybody feels the need to pray over every meal. But at least they’re thinking of the fact that prayer is available.”

With organized prayer not allowed in schools and other public places, he feels it’s a non-threatening way of promoting prayer and religious tolerance.

Tom Sorrell: “Rather than taking prayer away, there’s a way of thoughtfully offering it back to the world.”

Natsound: “Did you use the prayer cards?”

The concept is still too controversial an idea for national restaurant chains. Local, family-run eateries have been more receptive.

Walter Kees, Bo Don’s Restaurant: “We’ve seen our attendance grow.”

Restaurant owner Walter Kees says the prayer cards have become a recipe for success and he thinks they send an important message.

Jeffery Crochet, customer: “It’s really good; I think it will encourage people to pray.”

Pastor at table: “Do y’all usually say your blessing at the table?”

The cards are free and serve as a reminder, says Sorrell, of our religious freedom.

Tom Sorrell: “I would like to see the time when prayer could be experienced everywhere, by all people.”

Natsound (praying at table): “In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Public Prayer – Tag:

The prayer card ministry is now in three area restaurants. Many of the cards are taken home after the meal. Pastor Sorrel sees that as a positive, and the cards are quickly replaced.