Question: Should I always bow and pray before each meal or is it okay to pray inwardly to myself, eyes open, when others are around?
Answer: When Jesus thanked God for the food He looked upward (Matthew 14:19). We should not be so concerned about letting people know we pray over our meals as we are expressing thanks to God for how He provides our necessities. Whatever you choose to do is fine.
However, I suspect you may also be dealing with feelings of embarrassment you may cause others or feel yourself when bowing in public. It is good to be concerned for how you make others feel when you pray. Our goal is not to make people feel uncomfortable by the way we practice our faith. If it does make them uncomfortable it may be an issue for conversation with them, but we shouldn’t go out of our way to create discomfort.
If you are wrestling with the embarrassment of being identified as “religious” in public, that is another issue altogether. Talk to God about why that bothers you and how He feels about it. Ask yourself, “Why would I care if someone knew I was religious?” Identifying with Christ was a lesson Peter had to wrestle with, also (Matthew 26:69-75).
If you are at a restaurant you can actually make it more comfortable for you and those around you by telling your waiter or waitress that you are a Christian and will be saying a prayer for your meal and asking them if they would like you to mention anything to God that they are in need of. They’ll know why you have your head bowed if they see you doing that and it will be a way of practically ministering to them if they give you a request.
- Should we only ask God for something once? (askthepastors.wordpress.com)