Little boy praying for his dessert, saying graceWe have all been there. Everyone sits down to eat and waits for someone to pray for the meal. It seems like such a simple task, but at the same time people seem to make it something so complex.

Is praying for a meal any different than praying for anything else? Is there a certain way that we should pray before we eat? In order to answer this question, we would be best served to see what Scripture has to say about it.

How Jesus Did It

Whenever we are trying to figure out the best way to do something, it is usually a good idea to see how Jesus did it. We see multiple places in the Gospels where Jesus “Gives thanks” and breaks bread (Luke 22:19; Matthew 14:19). Jesus would pray a prayer of thanksgiving before distributing food to those who were with him. What we learn from this is that we should be thankful for the food that we eat. God is our provider and thus the food that we eat has ultimately come from him; therefore we should thank him for what he has given us.

How Should We Pray

But is there a specific way that we should go about doing this?

Jesus’ disciples asked him a similar question when they asked him to teach them how to pray. Jesus responded by saying, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation'” (Luke 11:2-4).

Here we find that Jesus gives direction in how to pray.

First, we acknowledge who God is and give him his rightful honor (Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come).  Since all good things come from him, we should acknowledge him in our thanksgiving.

Second, we recognize that we are in need of God’s provision (Give us each day our daily bread) and we acknowledge that he has provided for us.  Lastly, we acknowledge our need for his grace and our complete dependence on him (forgive us our sins…And lead us not into temptation).  Jesus gives us a template to help us to remain focused on all the reasons we have to be thankful.

Be Thankful

Ultimately, praying for a meal is all about being thankful. There is not a special formula or a specific way in which we must pray over our food. However, we must always recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17) and so our prayer should reflect how thankful we are to him.