The Bible talks a lot about prayer. So do we.
We talk a lot about it, but we often find it difficult to actually pray. We see it as a duty or a religious exercise rather than a conversation with the God of the universe. And this is our loss.
The psalmist David spoke of praying three times a day, morning, noon, and evening (Psalm 55). The Apostle Paul encouraged believers to “pray without ceasing” (Thessalonians 5:17), sort of like breathing in and breathing out. Yet still we struggle to pray.
At our house, when we sit down for a meal, whether it is a sandwich or a steak, we bow our heads to thank God for the food. That sounds super spiritual, but it isn’t. This action can become such a custom that it loses its purpose – thankful connection with God. We teach our children to “say a blessing”, and we have our own traditional phrases that can flow from our mouths without even thinking about God.
Here I am going to interrupt myself and say that training small children to wait and show respect during a prayer takes time and patience and modeling. It does not happen automatically. I personally believe that the tradition of holding hands during the blessing began out of necessity as parents attempted to keep their children seated and hands out of the food.
What if we saw this tradition, this customary practice, as an opportunity rather than a duty or expectation? What if we stopped scurrying before we began to eat and truly focused on God’s blessings for a moment? What if we used this time to call our hearts and minds back to God?
We would be honoring David’s commitment to prayer at morning, noon, and evening.
And we would be a little closer to breathing in and breathing out fellowship with God.
Mealtime blessings are an opportunity. They don’t have to be long or complicated, but they should be directed to and focused on our Provider.
Perhaps we need to remind ourselves while we train our children.
Psalm 55:16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. 17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. 18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.
I Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Photo – Bounty, Beth Mims