Praying before we eat is one of the simplest ways I can think of for getting God into the center of our lives.
It waters our relationship with God
Paul is referring to the Corinthians’ failure to pray before eating when he says:
For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:30
He implies that praying before every meal builds us up and makes us strong, both in faith and life. Just as food is central to our lives, culture, and survival, so is the prayer that comes before it. If we let God bless our food, we let Him also bless our lives, culture, and survival.
Mealtime prayer is an act of worship
Food sits before us, our appetite tells us to eat, eat, eat! By sacrificing these impulses for just a few seconds to consider God and thank Him for his goodness, we affirm that we choose God first (I wrote earlier that we worship whatever we sacrifice to). Mealtime prayer is an exercise of obedience through which we display our love and appreciation for Him who loves and appreciates us.
Meals offer us built-in check points with God throughout our day
Praying before each meal is the perfect opportunity to align ourselves with God’s peace, joy, and love. Three times a day, they’re an opportunity/reminder to thank Him for our blessings, as well as invite Him into our hearts. Through mealtime prayers we can celebrate God’s gift to us in short, positive bursts.
(I’d like to add here that a few weeks ago I put an alarm in my phone to ring at 3:00 every day- when it goes off and I stop whatever I’m doing and just say a short thanksgiving for letting me be where I am, doing what I’m doing, safe and sound. I call it “Hour of Prayer”, and it has really be uplifting for me, so I recommend it to my readers as well!)
We must understand that sacrificing a few seconds before each meal is only going to be done, and thankful prayers only going to be prayed, if we truly delight in God’s warmth. Thus mealtime prayer also allows us to constantly consider where our hearts lie.
“Examine yourselves, and only then eat the bread and drink the cup.”
Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:28
Is God important enough to my heart that He comes before food? Am I fully aware of the wonderful miracles Jesus has wrought in my life that brought me to this table here and now? Do I understand what those miracles mean for me eternally? Do I care? Asking ourselves these questions three times a day will certainly yield answers, and quickly too.
Mealtime prayer nourishes our relationship with God. We worship Him by sacrificing the time. We remind ourselves what good things He’s done for us over the course of the day. We consider our position in Him. These three acts together bring us out of ourselves and focus our minds on God instead- both in the long and short term. When we pray before we eat, we scoot closer to God in ten-second bursts. It’s a powerful habit that will very quickly put Him at the center of our lives.
Tip #3- Make a point to pray before every meal, giving thanks to Jesus for His gift of freedom to us, and assuring God that we want Him to be at the center of our lives.
The problem I have with all of this is that I can never remember to actually do it! Praying before I eat is not a habit of mine yet, so I always end up sitting there after I’m finished thinking “Oh man, I should have prayed first! I’ll get it next time.” How do you remember to pray before meals? What kinds of tips can you offer other readers to improve their (and my!) consistency in mealtime prayer? Your comments will add huge value to this series!
This post has been the new addition in the “Putting God At The Center” Series, a project of learning how we can bring God to the center of our lives. You can read the previous two posts: Worshiping God By Worshiping Our Bodies, We Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To, as well as the project directive. Stay tuned for the next installment, and please comment, like, and share!