“Bless This Meal”

I think we as Latter-day Saints should consider reforming how we pray over meals.  The primary purpose of these prayers, I’d say, is to offer gratitude that we get to have such wonderful food for us and our families, yet again. 

But listen to our prayers, and they almost always ask for Heavenly Father to “bless” the food for us now.  (My colleague even once wrote a satire of this tendency to request food be blessed to “nourish and strengthen” us.)  Is this, perhaps, un-grateful?  It seems to say, “Yes, thank you for the food.  But I’m not satisfied.  Could you now do more to make it good for us?”  As if the gift of ongoing sustenance itself isn’t enough.  As if our routine, rote recitation will automatically make whatever we’re eating healthy (I’ve heard such prayers over desserts many times, as I’m sure we all have). 

In fact, our predictable habit of asking for our meals to “nourish and strengthen” us strikes me as similar to the kind of set prayer we typically try to avoid. 

Also, when people are called on to offer such prayers, it’s usually with this wording: “Would you please bless the meal?”  As in some requests for priesthood blessings, this might be polite, but it’s inaccurate: we don’t bless anything.  We ask God to bless things for us. 

Maybe the most appropriate thing to do in these prayers is to simply offer real and humble gratitude that we are so constantly blessed with an abundance of delicious food.  Even without extraneous supplications for nutritoinal improvement, it’s already a profoundly amazing blessing.


2 comments on ““Bless This Meal”

  1. Though I am admittedly agnostic, I agree with you whole-heartedly. I often notice people praying and/or thanking God for rather mundane things (“Lord, I pray that you bring me a good deal on repairing my transmission.”) and I can’t help but wonder just what it is that these people believe in. I have trouble believing that God’s sole purpose (you know, beyond the creation of the universe) was to provide individuals with creature comforts.

  2. Jake and Huston, couldn’t agree more with you both.

    I have taken initiative to talk about this in my family, and give an example of trying to humbly thank the Lord for our sustenance and whatever we are able to do for mankind on our part, while asking him humbly to give us a grateful heart.

    Or something to the effect; I don’t like to repeat myself too much. Anyhow, I don’t believe in a God, who exists to give us the creature comforts we are supposed to forgo to help others as long as there is a suffering human on Earth.

    I think we should look at our selfishness. In my heart, I believe it should be a sacred duty to all people to do everything they can to alleviate suffering anywhere we can. And again we should remember that it is not ours to judge whether those who suffer might “deserve” their misery. I know I’ve suffered for my own stupidity, and I’m grateful for the lessons and the people who’ve helped me.

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