When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.
In the Parade Magazine that accompanies the Sunday newspaper there occurs at the end a short article called Views about a variety of topics. Today’s topic is “Counting our Blessings” by Anne Lamott (November 11, 2012) and is a heartfelt story about growing up in a family saying “grace,” or not, before meals. It is a very enjoyable read.
It reminded me that there is a Biblical precedent for saying Grace that began in the book of Exodus as God led His people into the Wilderness after freeing them from slavery from Egypt. Many people probably don’t know this and think that mealtime Grace is a recent convention. But it it looks like has longstanding roots.
It also was a prayer, as you’ll notice from the verse above, that was said at the end of the meal. Today we say Grace at the beginning. It seems right to pray before we eat, to thank God for giving us such blessings that so many in the world do not have. Especially considering recent events in northeast United States that have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy and then followed immediately by a cruel frigid nor’easter. So many without power, food, shelter for so long. While the rest of us continue to be blessed with all of this and more. Thank God for so many people that have streamed to this area to help those in need.
But the prayer that God told His people to say was a prayer after they have eaten. It is a prayer of being satisfied. It must be stated that this prayer is is not said in isolation. The context is that God is making certain promises to the people. He will bring the people into the land He promised them and will give to them every good thing, and will not bring any of the curses on them that He spread on the current sinful inhabitants (read chapter 7) – if His people merely maintain obedience to Him (read all of chapter 8).
So being thankful is a vital part of one’s relationship to God. As President Obama famously stated recently, “you didn’t make all this yourself, some one helped you.” Well, in a broader sense this is most certainly true. Without God, whether you know it or not, you would not be able to do any of the things you are able to do. And a grateful heart is an important part of love for a gracious Father who gives to us in such super-abundance whether we deserve it or not, and usually we don’t.
Isn’t that why the prayer at mealtime is called “Grace?”
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]