In Luke Chapter 11, a disciple asked the Savior to “teach us to pray.” The pattern that Jesus gave includes, “Give us day by day our daily bread.” In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches that it is appropriate to invite God into every aspect of our lives, and to thank him for every blessing we receive.
While there may not be an explicit command to say grace over meals, people of all faiths can grow closer to God through thankful prayer at mealtime. In that act of faith, we acknowledge our complete dependence upon him who sustains us day to day. By saying grace over our meals, we can also provide our children and our neighbors with an example of our faith in and our dependence upon God’s blessings.
Faith is a verb, and to be faithful is to commit to righteous acts in daily life that form a pattern for our behavior. Patterns, good or bad, characterize and govern our lives. A simple prayer over our food at mealtime can be a mustard seed of faith and the beginning of a pattern. In Jeremiah 29:13, we read “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye search for me with all your heart.” For those beginning their faith journey, saying grace can be the starting point for that search.
Bishop Sid Kooyman, Anniston Ward, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Pray out of love, thankfulness
Most people say a blessing over the meal out of superstition or tradition. Religious customs have been established, especially in the South, and many people feel a sense of guilt or shame if they do not give a token expression of prayer before eating. This is a sad state of affairs. We should only pray over the meal out of love and thankfulness for our heavenly Father.
Jesus taught us to pray without silly superstition, meaningless repetition, or in a way that calls public attention to our praying. Rather we are to pray humbly, dependently and thankfully (Matthew 6:5-15).
I can not know why you pray over your meals, but when I pray over a meal it is to thank God for his common grace, to acknowledge that without him I would have nothing to eat, and to submit my existence to his sovereign hand.
Carlton Weathers,17th Street Missionary Baptist Church, Anniston