Table Prayers are funny things – especially in my house, where chaos is never far away. But have you ever wondered, why do millions of Christians pray: “bless this food to our bodies; and, bless the hands that prepared this?”
First off: Why do we only “bless their hands?” Why not bless their bank account, or at least their whole bodies. Now that I think about it, my wife (who’s prepared many-a-meal) has REALLY amazing hands. I mean, look at those gorgeous digits! There’s clearly a lot of blessings stored up there.
Every once in a while, I think we should mix it up by blessing the face, ankles or hair-line of the person. Or focus on particular organs that are ailing them. Or alternately, “bless the mouths that consume this”…which leads to a bigger theological question: Can God “bless pizza to our bodies?”
Well… Jesus did, in fact, turn water into wine. He can multiply food too. And there is Biblical precedence that he has the ability to convert other foods as well. In the Old Testament God also removed poison from a pot of stew. (2 Kings 4). So the real question is, does he WANT to bless pizza to our bodies?
I think about this a lot because, what if, by the time we get to heaven, we realize that, God was actually honoring all of those table prayers where we asked him to bless the food to our bodies (including pizza). And he’ll look at us in the face and say: “Well, if you had more faith, you could’ve been cramming down all sorts of unhealthy things!” (but probably not!)
Many times, when my 3 kids were young, they insisted on accusing each other if their siblings weren’t closing their eyes during table prayers. This happened countless times when I was smack dab in the middle of my majestic table prayer. And right before the full blessing of heaven fell upon my wife’s hands, one of my kids would shout: “DAA-AA-AD! Eden has his eyes open! LOOK!” And the thought never occurred to any of them that, while being the “Prayer-Nazi,” THEY TOO had their eyes open.
All jokes aside, I actually DO believe that table prayers can be meaningful. When I went to the University of Minnesota, I vividly remember seeing a guy in the cafeteria bow his head for a few seconds and pray over his food. It wasn’t hyper-spiritual or weird. It was actually inspiring. In many ways, it gave the rest of us permission to simply express our faith. Like I share in my book Pharisectomy, we can be “passionate” and outward about our faith without being “religious” or oppressive. I’m not suggesting that you sing “Johnny Appleseed” or pray for fire to fall down from heaven alongside a few shofar horn blows. I’m talking about a simple pause, where you breath in the peace of God. And after that moment in the U of M cafeteria, it caused me to work the ritual back into my mealtimes.
Certainly, my youngest son might not grasp the real meaning behind table prayers yet, but someday he will. So, if you’re the parent of young kids – it’s O.K. to relax if your kids don’t want to pray-in-tongues for 15 minutes while hot pizza steams away in front of them. The real win is that you’re eating meals together!
In fact, the National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse at Columbia University did a study on families that regularly eat dinner together. They found that: “Kids/Teens who regularly eat dinner with their families are 3x Less Likely to smoke pot…(and cuts the overall risk of substance abuse in half!) Consistent dinner times statistically lowered stress levels at home. And it significantly lowers the risk of suicide in young people.
Also, kids/teens who regularly eat dinner with their families are more likely to confide in their parents; more likely to feel emotionally content; more likely to be selective about finding positive friends; are more likely to get good grades; AND are more likely to say their parents are proud of them.” COME ON! All of this comes from simply protecting dinner times? Absolutely! Thankfully, God loves to bless more than just “our hands.”
So, the next time you sit down for dinner, give God a short but meaningful “thanks.” And if you have any burdens, “cast all of your anxieties upon Him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). And THAT’s something to give thanks for!
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