Nod your head if your parents have ever embarrassed you. Yep, that’s what I thought, everyone is nodding. Being the daughter of a pastor during my high school years gave me much opportunity for eye-rolling and smh (shake my head) moments, especially when we were out in public. What I have come to learn, though, is Dad was not really as embarrassing as I thought. I was just insecure and worried how others would judge me or react to my dad (a pretty cool guy in my book, even if he is a little corny).
One of those eye-rolling moments came one night when my family was out to dinner at a local restaurant. We had just given our order to the waiter when my dad did something I will never forget. He asked the waiter if we could pray for him. Could he be more embarrassing? But the waiter’s response surprised me. He actually gave us a prayer request. Wow, no judgment, no strange looks; just a simple request and a “Thank you” as he left our table.
I don’t remember if I asked my dad when he started doing this or why. I simply remember this becoming part of our routine whenever we were out to eat. We would place our orders and then Dad would ask the server if she or he had anything we could pray about. Some servers would ask to win the lottery, not really taking the request seriously, but then my dad would say, “So, you would like financial stability?” And that would make the server realize he was serious and accept his offer to pray for them.
It took a few (okay, more than a few) years before I was comfortable doing this on my own. I started testing the waters when I was out with the family. I would ask the server instead of my dad asking, and then we would pray. The more I did it, the more excited I was to do it again. It became something I looked forward to whenever I would go to a restaurant because I knew God was allowing me to participate in someone else’s life, even if only for a moment.
I have been doing this long enough now for it to almost be second nature. I still have moments of insecurity, usually when the server seems abrupt or I am not sure if my company will be comfortable with my asking, but even those moments are becoming fewer and fewer. In all this time, I have only been turned down by one person. She asked to think about the question first, and when she returned to our table she said she was good and thanked me for the offer. That is the beauty of praying for someone; you can do it anyway. My friends and I still offered up a prayer for God to continue to move in our waitress’s life in a mighty way.
When asked for a prayer request, most servers would mention their kids, a family member or loved one. Their immediate thoughts were not for themselves, but for someone else. A few servers have almost started crying because of the burdens they were carrying, and some stayed at the table to pray right along with us. A simple offer of prayer often opens up conversations: about family, where to go for college, studying for finals, making decisions about jobs, housing or relationships.
Another benefit comes when you return to a restaurant and have the same server again. God sometimes has to nudge me a bit to remind me of their prayer request, but it is a joy to see their faces light up when you ask them how things are going. Some even remember me and offer their updates before I ask.
I know everyone does not have a natural inclination to pray for their servers, or at least to ask them aloud for a prayer request. It can seem a little embarrassing or intimidating at first, but why not give it a try? See what happens. You will be amazed at what God can do, is doing, in you, through you and all around you.
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