Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
Sometimes God has divine appointments when we least expect it. A few years ago, my husband and I were eating out. We stopped to pray when our food arrived. Afterward an older gentlemen came over. He said gruffly, “I saw what you two did.” I was taken aback and wondering what on earth we had done since we were sitting there minding our own business. Then a smile broke out on his face as he said, “I saw you praying before you ate. You keep that up. The world would be a better place if more people did that.”
I have never forgotten that moment. It didn’t make me change the course of my behavior, but it reaffirmed that I was doing the right thing. I hadn’t really thought much about praying before dinner, but the man’s comments made me realize that others were noticing. I needed to continue what I had already started because, not only was I connecting with God, but it was a simple way of sharing my faith with others.
Fast forward a few years later, and now the most important people that I want to share Jesus with is my children. I want to reach out to others, but I need to start right here at home first. Saying grace before we eat is a tangible way to remind my children 3 times a day that we need to stop and remember God.
I didn’t grow up in a family that prayed before meals. I grew up in a Christian home, but it just wasn’t something we practiced. Now when we visit Mimi and Pawpaw, my kids make sure we pray before every meal. It is not designed to make my parents feel bad. My kids have just gotten into the habit of talking to God before meals, and sometimes they even argue over who gets to say grace. (I don’t encourage getting your kids to argue about it. I do love that they enjoy it.)
When we sit down to say grace at our Thanksgiving meal, we are going to be among the 8 out of 10 American families still planning to say grace before they eat Thanksgiving dinner this year. (A little factoid I heard on K-Love this week.) Like the older gentlemen at the restaurant, I am happy to hear that so many people are stopping to pray.
It doesn’t really matter how you choose to pray. It might be a memorized prayer or one from the heart. Whether you lead the prayer or another family member, or even if you let your children lead grace, all that matters is that you take the time to join together and praise God for all He has done. I dare say that it is even a good time to ask for Him to continue to bless your family and friends in the future, especially if ones you love are facing hardships this season.
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:18-20 NIV
When The Thanksgiving Table Has Been Cleared…
I encourage you to continue saying grace at meals throughout the rest of the year too. A Huffington Post article earlier this year stated that only 44% of Americans report saying grace even once a day. (In fact, the article states some benefits of prayer even for those who aren’t believers!) We know that the popular way isn’t always best. Taking the time to pause and thank God is good for all of us. But most of us don’t bother to do it. Dare to be different. Dare to draw closer to God and model hearts of thankfulness year round. This is one of the easiest ways we can pass on our faith to our children, or even those who might see us in restaurants. Dare to stand out in the crowd.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NIV
Do you say grace before meals? Do you still pray when you are out in public? Have your children picked up your habits?