Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pray for Me

My youngest daughter, Avery, goes to church twice a week now.

Well, technically it's not church, it's a pre-school IN a church. You know, like those KFC/Taco Bell abominations that seem like both a good idea and a bad joke simultaneously.

To be sure, while the school itself is not a CHRISTIAN school, they do touch on religion with the kiddies. In fact, Avery now insists that we pray before each meal. It's this adorable clappy-sing-song thing that she does with this huge grin. The words are something like "Give thanks" clap-clap "to the Lord" clap-clap. Of course, Avery has added her own lyrics which involve imaginary friends, her toys and the dog she and her sister are literally praying for. Speaking as the resident Almighty Father, I can tell you at this point THAT particular prayer probably won't be answered -- that is unless I'm miraculously cured of pet dander allergies.

Anyway, I bring all this up to say that I personally have very sucky prayer-etiquette.

I attribute that mostly to the fact that I do not actually pray -- a direct by-product of not believing in God. Or at least, a god that answers personal requests like a middle school DJ. "Hey can you play, 'Please Pay My Mortgage?' or 'Please Kill This Guy Driving Like an Ass hat in the Fast Lane.'

So, this brings me to lunch last week with a co-worker. On our way to Chic-Fil-A, he's telling me this very engrossing story about a woman he's seeing that he shouldn't be seeing. It's all illicit sex, failed relationships, doomed psyches -- like a theater version of "Maury" -- so naturally I'm fully committed to the story.

We order as he continues his story, toning it down so the other patrons don't assume we are complete perverts, get our food and take our seat.

Mind you, just as we are spreading out our deep fried meals on the table, we had enterted the part of the conversation where I offer my pearls of wisdom.

"Honestly dude, I think you're making a big mistake."

My co-worker, usually open to honest criticism, sat, saying nothing.

In fact, his head was down.

"Hey, are you . . . "

Still no reponse.

Aw shit, I thought. Is he crying? Did I say something wrong? Maybe I've drudged up some painful memory which is about to come spilling out all over his waffle fries.

"Hey!" I said a bit more forcefully.

This time a response, a raised hand -- palm facing me.

So I paused. The words I had prepared next stopped, amassed on the border and awaiting orders.

Seconds later, he raised his head, smiled and said "I'm sorry, you were saying . . . ?"

And then it me. Prayer. Dude was praying while I was talking.

It's moments like these that I think of three things:
1. I have no prayer ettiquette. I assume when you're talking about wanton sex, that you're not gonna stop mid-sentence to chat it up with Jesus. So naturally, I don't assume I'll have to hold my tongue either. Not to mention, I'm kinda hungry.
2. Just as a matter of convienance, and I'm just throwing this out there, why don't you pray WHILE you eat. I don't mean talking while you chew (that's gross and dangerous). I mean pray . .  . with your mind. What, you don't think Jesus can read minds?
3. What does the person praying think about me? Clearly I'm powering through my nuggets without even a nod to the J-man, so clearly I'm a dick right? 

From where I sit, praying over food is usually about appreciation which I totally dig. Appreciating that I can eat and have food are things I got from my parents. Not only did they make me aware of children who had less, but my parents repeated a verse from their own Good Book. Let me see if I can recall it. Ah, yes it goes  -- "You don't own shit so be happy for what we give you." And that pretty much did it. Every time I looked at shit -- be it toys, clothes, a slice of pizza -- I would remember that said shit was temporary and that I was lucky to have it. Lesson learned, done and done.