I wanted to do some research and write a blog about the subject of praying before you eat. I’ve always known that a lot of people make it a point to pray before every meal, but admittedly, I slip on this aspect of the Christian lifestyle once in a while. Okay, maybe more than once in a while… Well, a lot… But who’s counting?
Anyway, it’s been on my mind lately that I should try harder about doing this, and I’ve heard some of my other family members say the same thing, so I thought it would be interesting to find out why exactly Christians pray before they eat, anyway? As I started looking it up online I found that other people have asked the same question and seem to be wondering the same thing.
So I will start by saying that, yes, it is in fact scriptural to pray before you eat. Obviously, the purpose in praying before you eat is to give thanks, sometimes for the food you are about to eat and sometimes you may want to give a longer prayer thanking God for everything you have. Giving thanks before a meal was originally started by Jesus, and was a tradition carried on by the apostle Paul.
When Jesus fed the multitudes of people with bread and fish, He “gave thanks” (Matthew 14:19-21; 15:34-36). In the first instance, He fed 5000 men, plus women and children, with five loaves of bread and two fish. In the second, He fed over 4000 with seven loaves and a few fish. At the Last Supper, Jesus again set the example by giving thanks. Again, when He appeared to the two men on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection, He stopped briefly to eat with them, and “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them” (Luke 24:30).
The apostle Paul continued the example of praying before eating, in Acts 27: 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.” And in 1 Timothy 4:4-5 Paul gave the instruction to his followers “4For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”
Through the examples of Jesus and Paul, we see that we should pray before eating a meal, but it should not be done in a ritualistic way. The emphasis should be on thanking God for the blessing of providing food to eat. We must also be careful not to do it in a way to show others how spiritual we are (Matthew 6:5).
Out of curiosity, I looked up the word “thanks” in my concordance. Between the words “Thank”, “thanked”, “thankful”, “thankfulness”, “thanking”, “thanks”, thanksgivings”, “thanksgiving”, and “thankworthy”, the word thanks is used in the Bible 122 times! Since we owe everything we have to God, it is appropriate to give Him thanks (Ephesians 5:20). Perhaps Jesus first began giving thanks before eating because having a meal is a good time to pause and do just that! 1 Chronicles 29:13 “Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
This post would probably have been more appropriate around Thanksgiving, but it’s on my mind now. Then again, perhaps it is more appropriate for now since everyone thinks to pray before they eat at Thanksgiving, it seems to be the rest of the year that everyone forgets to be thankful!