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When trying to maintain social etiquette at a business dinner yet honor your personal beliefs, consider the advice of Etiqutteer.com, "it is never Perfectly Proper to attract attention to oneself." The business dinner may not be the place for evangelism, but when done within respectable perimeters, it can be a place for prayer.
Your head and heart should be in the right place before attempting public prayer. Make sure you are comfortable with your decision to honor your God, because your comfort level will either put guests at ease or create tension. Do it for yourself, and you just may be a silent inspirer to those who were too uncomfortable to pray or a solid example of someone who stands up for what he believes in without being offensive.
If the point of your public prayer is to thank God for the meal and gifts he has given you in that moment, a silent prayer should suffice. Silent prayer allows your co-workers to continue their conversation as you pray, or to be thankful in their own way. Closing your eyes and bowing your head are great ways to signify that you have begun or ended your prayer, and helps to avoid uncomfortable interruptions.
A formal business dinner is not the place to talk religion or politics-unless your host brings it up, explains etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore. Though there may be other people who pray in the crowd, do not ask if coworkers would like to pray with you or hold hands. If prayer is something you feel strongly about, you do not need the approval or camaraderie of others.
Your companions at the dinner table will also determine what is socially acceptable. The risk of overstepping boundaries increases in companies with an international or culturally diverse staff. The first amendment grants you your freedom of religion, but it also grants freedom of religion to those with different beliefs. Never ask if people will be offended if you pray. This puts others in an uncomfortable position. Instead, quietly bow your head and pay your respects.
Make sure to limit your actions to a reasonable amount of time. Remember that just because you are praying, those around you may not be. There is no need to feel uncomfortable about praying in public; in fact most people will probably sit in silence out of respect once they notice you are praying.
- morning pray image by Aleksander from Fotolia.com