Wally asks: “Why is it important to give thanks before meals?”
Forgive my being frivolous Wally, but it was Rodney Dangerfield who said,
“With my wife’s cooking–we pray after the meals.
I don’t brush my teeth afterwards, I count them!”
Thankfulness is a character trait. All people are keenly aware of thankfulness by means of the moral law established by God in His creation of all things. We learn quickly in life that man often disregards the moral law written on the heart.
While this may be understood as protocol for fallen, sinful man, the Christian no longer may fall back on such an excuse and fail to be thankful. Thankful praise is in his new spiritual DNA, and ingratitude will only remind him of his old way of life.
The Christian has many motivations for an attitude of gratitude at mealtime.
1-THE EXAMPLE AND TEACHING OF JESUS–PROVIDER AND PROVISION
In Jesus’ prayer to the Father and his model prayer to his disciples, he revealed the source of all that sustains us in this life. Our Father… “Give us this day our daily bread”. Bread is daily; therefore, thanks is daily. Jesus was consistent in his giving of thanks. On both occasions of the feeding of the multitudes, giving thanks was obvious. Before and after his death, he gave thanks for food while present with the disciples.
Jesus speaks of a prayer closet as well, where we avoid the trap of seeking to impress others with our verbose-ability.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:5-7
In other words, it is not becoming of a Christian to USE prayer as anything other than sincere conversation with God the Father. Prayer is not to be “store-bought”, vain and repetitious. It must never be allowed to become a public display of religiosity. Just as a child converses with a parent, so we meet with our Father in secret. We are rewarded as such.
2-THE PRACTICE OF THE APOSTLES—why we pray “in His name”.
“Always use the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to thank God the Father for everything.” Ephesians 5:20
When in public, do I pray with public or private expression? Answer: Yes.
Paul, starving and shipwrecked, “took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all.” (Acts 27)
“Pray without ceasing” This means that we feel, think and converse with God silently in our heart and mind all throughout the day, even while, and especially while, at work and play. Sometimes we may think it best not to pray publicly before a meal, but rather to give thanks silently during and after the meal as well. Again, prayer is not for show, or to make an evangelistic statement. Prayer is an All-Occasion activity, not just for food.
“Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.”
OTHER REASONS FOR WHY WE PRAY BEFORE MEALS
An attitude of gratitude is one of many symptomatic musts for all of God’s children. Ingratitude is ugly on the child of God. An unthankful child is one who is disconnected with the Father’s heart. (II Timothy 3:1-2)
We pray because it is like a knee jerk reaction to the Grace and love he places in our hearts and to His faithful provision. He treats us better than we deserve. (Titus 3:7)
We pray because we know that the source of our blessings is not ourselves. “We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.” “It is He that has made us and not we ourselves.” (Psalm 23)
We pray because the body is a temple and food is its source of health.“You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So, use your body to honor God.” I Corinthians 5:19-20
We Pray because doing so reminds us that “God’s Kingdom isn’t about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness.” (Romans 14:17)
Fathers and Mothers. Let your children see and hear you pray. To do so is to remind them that we have a heavenly Father who cares and provides for His own. This is how a parent models Christ-like humility to their children. Then invite them to pray–to express their own gratitude and thanksgiving.
Our Father. You are kind to us beyond anything we could ever deserve. That you love us still tells us of your character. That we love you reflects our response to this love. Thank you for saving, keeping and sustaining us through Christ our Lord. Amen