Lately, I've been wondering..

Why do we pray before we eat a meal?

I mean, now that I think about it, I don't think it's ever really been a "command" per se. It seems more like tradition. My parents prayed, taught me to pray for my food and so now I pray and teach other little ones to pray for their food.

But is there any Biblical reasoning behind this? This is where my question began, and so I decided to do some research.

Here's what others on the web were saying:

"Does it depend on whether or not the one hosting the meal is a Christian? What if we're in the company of non-believers? Do we take into consideration the ratio of Christians to non-Christians gathered at the table? What if I'm the only Christian at the table? Is it a cultural thing? Do Christians the world over pray before they eat? And should the prayer always come
before eating? What if the meal was prepared by a really bad cook?"

"[Previously stating the assumptive thought that prayer at every meal is important] Well, ask yourself why you don't pray when you go out for ice cream. Does it depend on the quantity of food you are about to consume?"

"Why is this is done by Christians in restaurants? Is it supposed to be evangelism? If so, it's not effective. If it is truly offering thanks to God for His provision, then doesn't it relate to Mt. 6:5 where the Lord commands that prayers NOT be done on street corners where others can see? When "saying grace" is done in the home, why?...obligation? habit? tradition? sincere heartfelt gratitude?"

"What if the food you are eating is leftovers? Do they need to be re-prayed over? How many times?

I thought all of these were really interesting thoughts, some I never really considered. Ultimately I would ask: Do we treat prayer before a meal as a simple tradition and we do it out obligation?
I would say I am definitely guilty of praying for my meal out of mere obligation. It has almost become a subconscious habit of "Dear God, thank you for this food, bless this food to my body. Amen." There have actually been times when I have prayed something similar to that and then forgot and nearly prayed again. How terrible is that?!
Let's take a look at what the Bible says...

"Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people."
Matthew 14:18-19

Mark 6:41 also has nearly the exact same wording as this verse.

From this we can see that Jesus, to some extent, gave thanks for his food. Yet still, it made me wonder if there were any other places. The first idea that came to my mind was the Last Supper. So I flipped to Matthew 26:26, and indeed it says...

"...While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples.."

With these verses in mind, I would say that it would certainly be a Christ-like thing to pray before we eat. Seeing that Jesus did it, then surely I can/should as well!

But there is still one problem. Are we truly grateful? Am I truly grateful? What pleases God is a sincere prayer, a sincere heart. Whether it's tradition, commanded in the Bible or whatever it may be, ultimately, doing it with a genuine heart is most important. Sometimes we are in a rush, or we forget, or maybe we may even feel ashamed to pray for our food in front of others. I definitely think that because of the unlimited amount of food we have in America, that we so easily forget how fortunate we really are. Having food is something we really should be extremely grateful for!! Whatever the case, let this be a challenge to you that when you pray for your meals, you pray sincerely - with a genuinely grateful heart. 

Note: All quotes were taken from "Should Christians Pray Before Meals?"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave me your thoughts, I love to read them! :)

If you would like to contact me directly, then feel free to email me at: beautifullyselfless@yahoo.com