Due to some medical situations and some other commitments, I haven’t been able to do much with this blog this year. Somehow an entire year has slipped away and not much has been written. I’d like to change that in the coming year.
With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, I thought I’d take an opportunity to write out some thoughts.
When I was a child of in the 4-to-6 year-old age range, I had a good idea that I thought would be a great timesaver, so I told my mother. I said that we should just pray over our meals 1 time and say “Thank you, Lord, for this food, and for every meal you provide from now on.” I figured that would cover it, and we would not have to spend so much time praying for our food before each meal. My mother answered by saying that I wouldn’t want someone saying, “Thank you for this present, and for all the presents you may give me for the rest of my life.” You see, the gratitude should be fresh, meaningful, and should have something to do with what you are actually thankful for.
I think about his whenever I am thanking the Lord for my food. How easy is it to slip into a stale, old recited prayer that has nothing to do with what you are about to partake? Teaching children to pray “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” Is fine, because it is teaching them to pray, but at some point, they need to be taught to break the routine and pray an original prayer. It does not help if mom and dad are praying the exact same word-for-word prayers every day. The only thing this teaches is how to memorize a script, not how to communicate with God Almighty.
We see several times in the New Testament where Jesus takes bread and “blesses” it. The form of this word in the Greek actually means “to celebrate with praises”. In other words, He offered His thanks for it. In another scripture, we see the Apostle Paul, after having endured a violent storm and many days without food, “he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat.” (Acts 27:35). These prayers, I’m sure, were not some rote, memorized-from-children’s-church, candy-coated prayers. I am certain that these were heart-felt instances of joyous praise, thankful for what God had provided. This is what our prayers are supposed to be.
I challenge, no, I dare everyone out there to cut loose of all of the memorized, routine meal prayers. Instead, model each and every one of your prayers to the situation at hand. Pray for each other. Pray for needs. Ask God for healing. Pray for lost souls (at meal time? YES!!) Be specific about what you are thankful for concerning the food. There is no need to rush the prayer, bless the individual dishes. We often think of the prayers that Jesus prayed over the food as a quick prayer to the Father, but think about how we just defined the word “bless” – “to celebrate with praises.” No celebration is going to be a quick little “bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies.”
This Thanksgiving, and every day, turn your mealtime prayers into something more than just a routine, well-practiced, memorized, repeated quotation. Instead, celebrate the goodness of God the Father.
I wonder what will happen if we all quit praying routine mealtime prayers, and instead, actually include God in our prayers?