Prayer Group

Four white women in their 303 and 40s sit around a round table in a coffee shop in tony and liberal neighborhood. Their coffee drinks, phones and a big black Bible rest on the table. It’s some kind of prayer/scripture reading group. The Bible looks very King James version.

It’s a weekday morning in winter. The women just dropped their brats off at school.

I watch them from a distant table. They take turns reading aloud something from their phones, then closing their eyes, then one of them says a brief prayer.

There is a clearly a leader of the group. She’s running the show.

I’ve seen prayer groups in coffee shops for decades, all over Oregon. I’ve never understood why some Christians meet in busy cafes, with music playing, conversations going on, and coffee making sounds dominating the ambiance. Why not meet in a private home? Are they performing for the rest of us? It sure feels like it to me. Perhaps they gain moral courage by displaying their faith.

Jesus did say, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”

The group must have missed that declaration.

I supposes the same could be said about a group of Marxists meeting in a coffee shop (are there any Marxists left in America?), reading passages aloud from the Communist Manifesto and discussing how they’re more relevant than ever. I’d really like to see such a group in a coffee shop near me. I might even join them!

As I watch the women, I wonder what it would be like to sit around the table with them and participate. I know the Bible well. I’ve got my favorite lines, metaphors and stories.

Would they let an atheist join them?