We’ve all seen those movies where the outsiders come into an Amish community. You know, movies like “Witness”, “Kingpin” or “For Richer or Poorer”. We first realise these people are out of place is when they sit down to eat. The guy with the long white beard starts saying Grace and thanks Jesus for the food, and the outsiders look at each other in confusion and discomfort.
Christians sometimes feel this discomfort too. Should we pray (especially if company is present), and who should pray (“No, that’s okay, you pray”) seem to be big issues. Of course, if we knew why we pray then the other questions might fade in importance.
The word “grace” comes from the Latin “gratia”, which simply means “thanks”. So when we are “saying grace” we are really saying “thank you Lord for providing this food.” This is a good thing to to do. We give recognition that Jesus provides for us. Some may question whether he actually the provides food, and we can only answer in the affirmative. He provides us with life, health and opportunities to earn the money which we use to buy the food, so he has provided it in the most fundamental of ways.
So, when someone gives us something it is natural that we thank them for it. Usually it is considered good manners to thank someone each time they give something, so it’s a good idea to express that thankfulness at every meal regardless of who may be in attendance or the location.
Does this mean you should thank the Lord (saying Grace) for the food even when your mother-law is present? When you know your dinner guest is an unbeliever? When you are at McDonald’s or The Ritz? Yes, there should be no false boundaries when it comes to humbly thanking the Lord for his provision.
Saying Grace should come natural to you!
If you assume a prayer will always be spoken at meals, there will be no moments of pre-prayer anxiety. A table grace should be as natural and normal as picking up a fork. If others choose not to join in, or if they gawk at your act of thanksgiving, then that will have to be their problem not yours.
The prayer need not be loud or ostentatious, but neither should you just knock off a quick nod to God. Thanking Jesus for his provision can be fun too! A prayer sung is certainly as good to God as a prayer spoken.
Jesus “gave thanks” when he ate (Mark 6:41, Luke 22:17). On one occasion he even gave thanks for the bread and wine individually. You can thank him for his provision when you unload the bags from the grocery store, when you prepare the food, and of course when you sit down to eat. A table prayer is a good ritual in our lives.