Dad, do you use meal times to simply repeat a rote prayer, offering up your “duty” for God? Are meal time prayers simply a time to say the refrain, “Thank you, God for this meal…bless us now”?
I want to challenge you, Dad, to rethink your meal time prayers. It is so easy for me to slip into the “Thank you, Lord. Amen” prayer, especially if I am really hungry. That is not, however, how I can best lead my wife and daughter. Most of the spiritual instruction and formation that takes place in the home is not programmed or planned. It happens on the fly and in the mundane moments. My daughter is too young to catch what I’m praying, but as she grows to understand speech, she will begin to see that her mommy and daddy takes prayer seriously–before a meal, or any other time.
Prayer times are integral for saturating your family with the gospel. If prayer is simply a time to the usual, your kids will severely misunderstand the point of prayer. Prayer is a time of talking to our heavenly Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Meal time prayers designed by God to teach and lead your family how to feast on the goodness and beauty of the Triune God, not the food on the table.
Meal time prayers do not have to be long. In fact, your kids (and maybe your wife) will probably be angry if they are! Even a short prayer, however, can be gospel-drenched and instructive for everyone at the table. Let me suggest a few meal time prayers to say with your family.
Father in heaven, thank you for another day of your mercy. You did not have to sustain us until now, but you have and any more moments we have together will be because of your sovereign grace. We praise you for your providence in giving us food to eat. Help us glorify you in our eating and drinking by remembering this food comes from you. Remind us as good as this food is, your Son is our true soul food. Only he can satisfy us and make us whole. No amount of meat, bread, milk, or even ice cream can do that. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Father, you are glorious and good. This food reminds us that we are dependent on you, but you are dependent on no one. We must eat and drink to have energy, but your energy is self-contained and you never get tired. May we never forget our need for your constant help, whether we feel tired or not. We are thankful you have helped us most through your Son, who died to forgive the times we broke your rules and the times we have tried to keep them to earn your love. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
Father, there is no one like you. Before we eat this great meal, we want to recognize that you have created every flavor, designed each smell, and assigned certain textures for this food and drink. Help us enjoy our meal and remember that you have kindly given it to us because you are good. Most importantly, would we remember that you have given us your perfect Son Jesus, who has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He gave himself on the cross so that we might join him and become your sons and daughters. In His great name, I pray. Amen.
You don’t have to pray these exact words. But you need to find your way to exalt Jesus and his good news, and do it often…even before feasting on macaroni and cheese.