Wird Geladen

Lessons from my own bible study

Archive for the tag “sacrifice”

Mealtime Prayer

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.
Paul1 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!

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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 BodiesWe Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To, as well as the project directive.  Stay tuned for the next installment, and please comment, like, and share!

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We Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To

Look at the Israelites; those who eat the sacrifice are partners in the altar.  What pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, not to God.  Do not be partners with demons.

1 Cor 10: 18-20

The word eat in the Bible means to take part in, to internalize, to align yourself with.  We eat the bread of Christ, but we also eat tennis, or shopping, or sex, or TV marathons.  Thus Paul is not just talking about food here, but anything we might conceivably do or care about.  That’s the first thing to keep in mind while reading this passage (and the whole Bible, really).

The second thing we have to keep in mind is how we’re using the word “worship”.

15 Second context: Those Greeks who were not the converted Christians to whom Corinthians is addressed were called“pagans”.  They used to sacrifice animals during worship ceremonies to stone/gold/wooden idols and then eat the meat in a feast directly afterwards.

So many of these words- pagan, idol, sacrifice- have negative connotations to the Christian ear, but they are simply ideas which all humans carry out every day.  Any decision we make involves a sacrifice to an idol- giving up one thing in order to have something else.  This is an act of worship.  We worship whatever we sacrifice for.  We make it an idol- even temporarily- and put it above all other desires, implying that it deserves to be the pinnacle of our obedience.  To worship doesn’t mean fall on the knees and bow down, or write songs and poems about, or say high words, or burn in a golden cup.  Worship simply means to choose first.

Think about going to the gym.  You pay money for memberships, you avoid certain foods, you get up off the couch and stop watching Friends.  Almost anything is better than going to the gym.  But if you care about the results, you go anyway.  You sacrifice all the wonderful, lazy things in life to the idol of fitness, and worship your body by working out.

At Chili’s there’s a 16 dollar plate of ribs which is awesome, and there’s a 12 dollar bowl of pasta that’s just OK.  If you’re cheap like me you choose the 12 dollar pasta every time, and live with the mediocre decision.  You make a choice to keep your four dollars, and in doing so you’re worshiping money.

Here’s a final example:  I read the Bible every morning, which is where I get all the posts for this blog.  Before I start my Bible study, though, I sometimes spend about 20 minutes on the computer checking email, facebook, this, that, and the other.  In my heart I would like to make the Bible study first and foremost- that feels more important to me.  Certain days, however, I sacrifice my desire to have Bible study first thing to my desire to satiate my digital idol.  I worship whatever is waiting for me on the internet, and put God second.

I chose these mundane examples to make a point.  It may sounds ridiculous, or extreme, or like a technicality, but the psychological minutia of our daily, hourly, minutely choices is extremely important if we want a clear picture of what we hold at the center of our lives, as opposed to what lies just to the outside.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend less money or checking your email first thing in the morning.  The choices we’re making aren’t “bad” or “good”, but we need to be aware that even our smallest sacrifices form the foundational characteristic of our being.  

Thus, the first tactic toward getting God into the center of our lives is to think about and be aware of the duality of what we’re sacrificing and what we’re making sacrifices to.  With this in mind our choices are tinged with the knowledge that we are worshiping whatever we’ve just decided on.  This allows us to be keenly aware of what we’re partnering ourselves with- what we eat- and if we want God to be at the center of our lives we need to make sure we’re sacrificing things for Him, and not the other way around.

Tip #1- Keep an eye on what we’re making sacrifices to, so we can make sure we’re making sacrifices to God.

The clearer our focus is on what we worship through our sacrifices, the clearer our understanding will be of where we are, how we got there, and most importantly where we’re going.  If God is the End Result, then making movement toward Him through sacrifice means we are not lost, and the abundance of His joy (as detailed in Isaiah 55) becomes ours more and more completely.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first installment of the “Putting God at The Center” series.  Follow along next week for a look at how our bodies can be the perfect place to focus our efforts.  Comments, feedback, shares, suggestions, criticisms are always encouraged.

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