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Monday, June 13, 2011

Praying for Chicken

Its vacation!
That means a lot of things:
  • I can take off my watch
  • I don't care if I have cell service and
  • I eat at all my favorite places.

Today we had lunch at Chick-fil-a.

In case you've not been to this chicken heaven, trust me when I say it's really great food. In fact, I've never met anyone in my whole life who doesn't like Chick-fil-a....... ever!

But also you should know this is where the "Christians" go to eat. It's well known in our subculture that the chicken franchise owner is also a believer and we like to spend our money on organizations who believe like we do. It eases our conscious or something (she says tongue in cheek).

Now I am a Christian but this is not why I've come here with my girls today. This is seriously good food. Eating here is yummy and I only get it once or twice a year. But thats still not the main reason why I like visiting Chick-fil-a ..... it makes me feel young. It's not the hand breaded, all breast meat chicken cooked in 100% refined peanut oil which is naturally low on trans fat and is cholesterol free. No, Chick-fil-as remind me of my first job. I was 15 and working the cash register at Chick-fil-a at Jamestown Mall (well that is until I slipped Errol Manning a free order of waffle fries and I got let go) proudly wearing a brown apron and polyester pants.

Reminiscing on those good ol days I sat there today eating my mayo and chicken sandwich (yes in that order) when a loud group takes over the two tables next to me.

The mother, bless her heart, is doing her best but she is clearly over-parenting (just take a breath lady - this probably isn't the kids first time out to eat). She's scrambling and fussing and making sure every child has the exact same number of nuggets. Some kids protest they are ready to eat and others are complaining they have the wrong order. All are under the age of seven. Mom won't let anyone dig in until a. everyone has their food and b. they say a prayer of grace. The entire restaurant was aware of this fact. The madness stops for a brief moment while the children grasp hands, bow their heads and one proclaims their corporate thanks for mom, dad, grandma and chicken. At the "amen!" all four sets of hands dig in and the mom collapses in a nearby, supervisory booth.

And that's when I hear a hushed giggle rise from the same table. A sweet little voice added an addendum to the now executed prayer,
"And poop-poop! Thank you Lord for poop poop!".
"Yeah!" another child adds, "Poop-poop! Poop-poop!"

I smiled despite myself. Aren't children wonderful?
Wonderful?!? Don't I mean horrible?
No, I don't.

In the book of Mark chapter 40 Jesus warns us to be aware that some church leaders make a show with their lengthy prayers and that that behavior is punishable.

I certainly don't know this woman's heart or even her belief system and I too understand the compelling need to teach your children the value of prayer but is this the best way? This is not a statement against her desire to teach her children about prayer but its just a question; should we make children pray?
Does making them pray make them truly thankful? Probably not.
Should we make a show of our prayers?
Can gratitude be genuine if it's expressed internally?
Should children be punished for behaving like children do in sacred moments?
Are chicken nuggets sacred?
And most importantly can you be thankful for poop?

I can. After a week of travel, an abnormal diet and a two different time zones I can say I'm quite thankful for a healthy bowel movement.
Did I really just say that?
I did!

Listen I'm not wanting to judge who is and who isn't sincere in their prayers all I know is that God tells us it's a very bad idea to try and impress people when we pray aloud. It seems to me those children were praying to appease their mothers expectations. I imagine the sincerest prayer was that pertaining to bowel movements.

That'll give you something to think about the next time you eat chicken won't it?

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