My mother was a Baptist, my father a Catholic. And, though my family originates from three different continents, I was raised in the Cartesian French culture that divides the sacred and the secular in a categoric way. I do not recollect, accurately, the contents of our mealtime prayers. But, to the child I was, they sounded like a mix of strict phrases from Catholic orisons and spur-of-the-moment words that I identified as Protestant.
Our intention with these mealtime prayers was to take time for spiritual contemplation before the mundane (and slightly guilty pleasure) of eating. These prayers were our collective acknowledgement that we were part of the “lucky ones” who had food on the table. For, in those days, people discovered the amplitude of the world’s food crisis all while simultaneously watching the news on TV and having dinner.
Guilt sometimes invited itself in, as we felt compelled to mention “those who do not have bread.” We prayed to the Lord to feed them, which by the way is part of our assignment. But, decades later, the words for “saying grace” do not seem to have changed much. Many still exhale the slightest trace of relief from the fear of want. It mostly goes along the lines of: Thank You, Lord, for providing.
Yet, Jesus told us not to worry about what we will eat or drink. The Lord knows we have to sustain ourselves every day . . . and we can trust Him to be faithful. With this truth, I realized that being overly thankful for receiving the basics that I need is closely related to being overly worried that I may be denied provision for those same basic needs. Sometimes, it’s as if being overly thankful reveals that my attention is focused on what I should actually be confident about.
This is why the Lord feeds us our daily bread. He wants us to trust and rely on Him, focused on the fact that we get to partner with Him and work in the harvest. We are on His team . . . so, of course, He will feed His workers. Not simply so that we are fed, but in order that we might gather strength, enthusiasm, and peace for the accomplishment of His purpose.
I’ve asked God to open my mind to a new way of seeing and seeking for His good and perfect will to be done in my life and in the life of my family. He graced me with a surprising, beautiful answer one morning while I spent time looking at the breakfast table. I contemplated a message I once heard about how Noah, fresh out of the ark, gave praise and made a sacrifice before doing anything else.
The Lord shifted my perspective and I suddenly saw that familiar breakfast table as an altar on which I contribute to Him a daily sacrifice on behalf of my family. A grateful sacrifice . . . but also a holy sacrifice. For we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He is our High Priest and we are called to priesthood, called to be set apart and made holy. For this reason, I am also, therefore, presenting the Lord with the best products from the earth that I can gather as a mother. Together with my family at the table, we are presenting the Lord with the best of our hearts — no grudges, no bickering, no worrying . . . which would be like putting rotten fruit on a nicely decorated table.
All creation is God’s — that is what “bringing my best” to the table is proclaiming. Once God has received the sacrifice, we may eat it by faith. Now we see, there is a lot more happening at the believer’s table than meets the eye! For, when the Lord looks with favor at our offerings, He gracefully throws “open the floodgates of heaven” and pours out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it.
I am not saying we need to reinstate sacrificial rituals in order to obtain the Lord’s favor — Jesus has already accomplished it all. But I am saying that our mealtime prayers say a lot about where we stand in our walk with God. Perhaps it’s time we become more conscious of what our breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables look like.
Perhaps we pay more attention to what food we serve, to the setup, to the posture of our hearts and the quality of the atmosphere before we start to eat. Perhaps this is the holiness of our mealtimes. That, not only do we say grace before we eat, but that each member of the family might leave the table with a generous ration of God’s gift of grace.
That, at every meal we might be physically fed . . . and even spiritually nourished.Leave a Comment