One area of giving thanks that has seemingly slipped away in America is the practice of giving thanks at meals. It is a rare occurrence to see people praying in restaurants as they are served food. Why has this habit begun to disappear from public view? I really don’t have an answer just some conjectures: **In today’s world, people seem overly concerned with how others view them and do not want to do something considered ‘politically incorrect’ and offend someone. **They have gotten out of the habit of doing this regularly. **Or perhaps thanking God for the food they are about to eat, never crosses their mind as they earned the money to pay for it, so why give thanks? Whatever the reasons they have for not praying- giving thanks is very biblical.
Jesus’ giving thanks is recorded in the gospels on various occasions. Matthew 14:18-19 Jesus is preparing to feed 5,000 people and He said, ““Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people” Again when 4,000 had gathered and had been with him for days, He had compassion on them and gave them food. Matthew 15:35-36 “He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people.” After Jesus’ resurrection, he met the men on the Road to Emmaus. They did not know who he was but He spoke to them about himself from scripture. They begged him to stay and eat with them on their journey. Luke 24:30-31 records this encounter, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Paul also followed Jesus’ example under the hardest of circumstances. He was a prisoner being transported to Rome and they were in a great storm. All on board the ship feared for their lives. Paul brings calm into the situation, “Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board.” Acts 27:33-37
What should be our response to these biblical examples of giving thanks? Jesus in his humanity gave thanks to God for the provision of food for the gathered crowds. Paul gave thanks in a desperate situation that could have totally consumed his thoughts and prayers. They did not ‘forget’ to pray when they were busy and consumed with other things- they stopped, gave thanks and then ate. No matter where we are, we need to acknowledge God when we eat. We need to thank the creator of all things for the provision of food for our bodies. Physical food is essential for our bodies to run well just as spiritual food is essential for our growth and development in Christ. Our spiritual food is the Word of God.
I must confess that I am convicted by this blog today. I often do not pray when I am out in the company of unbelievers or get out of the habit of praying when by myself at meals. Knowing Jesus was in the habit of thanking God for his physical provision of food, convicts me that I should do the same out of respect for God and His provisions in my life. I pray that you are led to do likewise.