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The Art of Saying Grace

When I became a Christian, I often pondered the following question:-

What should my life look like now I have been born again?

Beyond the attending of a Sunday service, I had no idea what a Christian lifestyle looked like!  Trying to figure this out can be a confusing time.  Of course, the Bible holds the answers to this and any other questions that we may have, however, finding these answers can take a considerable amount of time, as many long-term Christians will attest to.  The questions will never stop coming as we journey through our earthly life and we must never stop seeking the answers.  It is likely that the point of our conversion is the time we question most in our Christian lives as we look at our lives and the changes we must make and make them we must.  As Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  Our old self is gone, we are a new creation and this new creation must be different from the old, as Paul explains, Colossians 3:7-10 “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Paul explains to us why it is important that we show our new selves to those around us, 2 Corinthians 5:20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” We are ambassadors for Christ!  This is at once a huge blessing and a huge undertaking.  Working for Christ, we must always seek to glorify His name and lead others to His kingdom. 

This may seem daunting but bear in mind that this role is different for everyone, for some, the change is significant and almost instantaneous, we hear of incredibly violent prisoners becoming gentle giants overnight,  of drug dealers immediately turning from a life of crime, however, for others, the change is very small but slow and steady.  What is important is that others see the difference, that others see God through you.  Perhaps month by month you drink a little less alcohol, perhaps week by week you swear less or day by day you become a little more selfless.  So have a look at your life and ponder the changes you could make. 

One of the first things I decided to implement in my life was the act of saying grace before meals.  When I did some research on the internet about this subject, I found that worldwide, people of many religions and none say grace before meals, I have listed some examples below:-

Humanist Benediction – “For the meal we are about to eat, for those that made it possible, and for those with whom we are about to share it, we are thankful.”

Native American Thanksgiving:- “I’m an Indian.  I think about the common things like this pot.  The bubbling water comes from the rain cloud.  It represents the sky.  The fire comes from the sun, Which warms us all, men, animals, trees.  The meat stands for the four-legged creatures, Our animal brothers, Who gave themselves so that we should live.  The steam is living breath.  It was water, now it goes up to the sky, Becomes a cloud again. These things are sacred.  Looking at that pot full of good soup, I am thinking how, in this simple manner, The Great Spirit takes care of me.”

Hindu Blessing:- “May the Lord accept this, our offering, and bless our food that it may bring us strength in our body, vigour in our mind, and selfless devotion in our hearts for His service.”

Buddhist Blessing:- “Wisely reflecting, I use this food not for fun, not for pleasure, not for fattening, not for beautification, but only for the maintenance and nourishment of this body, for keeping it healthy, for helping with the Spiritual Life. Thinking thus, I will allay hunger without overeating, so that I may continue to live blamelessly and at ease.”

Muslim Blessing:- “Bismillah Al-rahman, Al-rahmin,” which means “I begin in the name of God most gracious and ever merciful.”

Isn’t it interesting that throughout the world people of all faiths are giving thanks for the food that they eat!  Saying grace before a meal allows us to humble ourselves before God and realise that all and any blessing we have is from God.  We may have grown the vegetables and prepared the meal but only through God has that been made possible, though we planted the vegetables, God created them, though we may have picked the vegetables from the ground, it was God that provided the rain in order that they would grow and the earth in which they were nourished.  Though we may have slaved in the kitchen for hours, it is only by God’s grace that we have the ability to prepare food and the utensils required to prepare and distribute our meals.  Giving thanks to God for this is only right!

Paul, the apostle, gave thanks to God before feeding all the men on the ship that he was travelling on, 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.” 

During one of Jesus’ miracles, in which He feeds over 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, He gave thanks to God before serving them, Matthew 14:15-21  “As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.  Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.  “Bring them here to me,” he said.  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.  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

Again, following His resurrection Jesus, gave thanks before breaking bread with two of His followers, Luke 24:28-31 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther.  But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So, he went in to stay with them.  When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” 

Paul and Jesus have led by example in the art of saying grace.  If it is important to Jesus to give thanks to His Father, how much more so for us!

Paul further advises us to give thanks for everything in Ephesians 5:20 “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and for him are all things.  To him be the glory forever! Amen”  Everything we see, hear, taste, touch, smell and those that we can’t comprehend are from God and we must be thankful. 

By saying grace, we are giving thanks to our Creator, we humble ourselves before God, we acknowledge that without God, we are nothing and we have nothing.

It can be intimidating beginning to say grace in front of others, and if this is how you are feeling at the prospect begin by saying a simple form of grace in your head before eating.  You can continue in this fashion if this is what you are comfortable with.  It can be difficult to know what to say to begin with so I have given some examples  of Christian grace below but, of course, if you are comfortable, you can construct your own grace prayer:-

Moravian Dinner Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be

And bless these gifts

Bestowed by Thee.

And bless our loved ones everywhere,

And keep them in Your loving care.

Amen.

Catholic Grace

Bless us, O Lord, and these
thy gifts which we are about
to receive from thy bounty,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Bénedic, Dómine, nos et haec
tua dona quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi.
Per Christum  Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Funny Form of Grace

Please Lord, bless this food, and then bless it some more.

We know it needs your blessing because we have eaten here before!”

Author Unknown

Our dear Heavenly Father,

We thank thee for this food.

Feed our souls on the bread of life,

And help us to do our part in kind words and loving deeds.

We ask in Jesus’ name.

Scottish, Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it.
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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