Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blessing the Food.

I don't always pray before I eat.

I don't always pray before I eat because I've grown weary of the mechanical prayer we've gotten great at reciting. You know the one I'm talking about...
Father, thank You for the food we're about to eat. Thank You for the hands that have prepared it. I pray that it would go to the nourishment of our bodies so that we can glorify You more. In Jesus' name, Amen.
It may not always be that exactly... but it's quite often something very similar. If that's not the whole prayer, it's usually tacked on to the end of a more wordy and elaborate prayer. These words are offered up, but there's often no meaning behind it. At least not for me.

Was Jesus right when He quoted the prophet Isaiah? Was He right when He said that we honor Him with our lips but our hearts are far from Him? I think yes.

I've wondered for a few years where we even got the idea to pray before we eat. Why do we think we need to bless the food?

'Duh, Debbie... Jesus blessed it!'...
Clearly there's a moment before the feeding of the 5,000 and another moment before He leads the disciples into the Last Supper. They are moments were Jesus looks up and gives thanks. He shows gratitude... real gratitude for the food, for what it means, for the Lord's provision.

I know what it's like to be thankful for food, to be thankful that I have something to eat...but I don't really know what it's like to be hungry. I don't really know what's it's like to go without my basic needs being met. Even in the moments of adventure, or random hardships encountered overseas... there was always an end in sight to my 'rough' circumstances.

It makes me realize that I'm probably not even sure I know what it means to be truly thankful for food. And I know that I'm certainly not thankful for it all the time. We tend to have this love/hate relationship with it... as we're mostly gluttons who have food at our every beck and call.

I guess the thing is that Jesus didn't bless the food. He gave thanks for the food. You know how we sometimes joke about how we can't eat the food yet because it hasn't been blessed? I think we missed the point...

Food is this daily reminder of the Lord's provision for us, and we usually just take it for granted. Think of all the times food is used throughout Scripture... from manna, to famine, to parables, to miracles...

I'm not saying it's bad to pray before you eat. I'm just saying... let's move beyond this scripted prayer that's become so routine in our lives. Let's remember who Jesus is, let's remember the provision in our lives.. and let's thank Him for that... not just the food on our plates.

And... I guess I don't think it's this mandated thing that the Lord requires of us. I can be thankful for His provision without having to echo this prayer three times a day. He knows my heart... and He knows where my heart is and would rather that be near to Him than my lips proclaiming falsehoods.

Pray before you eat, sure... do it every time, that's great! But don't get so honed in on it that you forget what you're really thankful for in the first place. Don't forget that it's not about the food... but it's about the provider.

Bless His name.
Not your food.

* * *

Your entries will remain anonymous


  1. Debbie! I know! A couple years ago I started re-annalyzing certain things Christians do, because we're supposed to. Saying a blessing over food is one of them. It is great to be grateful and to take a few minutes to do so. BUT, so many Christian feel like it is blasphemy to take a bite of your food before grace.
    The Bible says to give thanks in all if we were to do this we would literally have to stop and bow our heads and pray over action. You're right, it's about your heart.

  2. I'm glad you posted about this! I think this all the time, but didn't know other people felt the same way. I didn't used to mind praying for meals usually but now I almost always hate it because over the summer my grandmother made me pray at every other meal, even when I didn't feel like praying and knew I was just saying empty words to make her happy. Ugh, the thought of pretending to talk to God makes me sick.

    When people say "we need to pray for the food!" I have definitely said before "Why? What's wrong with it?" Or I've asked, why do you say such-and-such, or what does such-and-such mean? (Such-and-such being part of their meal prayer) and I've actually had people say "I don't really know. My mom always said it" or something like that.

    1. Oh yeah, "Bless this food." I've asked someone what "Bless this food" actually means. They didn't know. I don't know. Do you know?

  3. I have had a lot of the same thoughts! I recently read Romans 14 and thought to myself... OHH that's where the habit of praying before meals kicked in (Rom 14:6). I have learned so much from this chapter lately about convictions (summed up in Rom 14:23). Thanks for sharing yours!