Sunday, April 5, 2009

Praying Before Meals and Family Devotions

When I visited "The Little Mermaid's" blog and saw some prayers that she has been taught, it reminded me of the one we used to say before meals growing up. It went like this:
Come Lord Jesus, be thou our guest, and let this food to us be blessed. Amen.

It was short but had a neat concept of inviting Jesus to join us for our meals. It became repetitious to me though and praying before meals is something I really no longer do. I know Jesus gave thanks to the Father before he ate so maybe I should too. But it also says not to use vain repetitions when we pray. I start my day with prayer and pray throughout the day, so don't feel it's necessary to pray before every meal. I know it's expected at Christian gatherings and I don't have any objection to doing it, so I do when I attend those things where there is food. Even then though, it seems kind of ritualistic to me.

Praying before meals was really the only formal "spiritual" instruction or training we got at home even though my mom and dad were both Christians. They mostly taught by example. I remember seeing my mom reading the Bible when she was preparing to teach her Sunday School lesson or for the Jr. High youth group but can't remember ever seeing my dad read his Bible outside of church. He never learned the order of the books either--probably because he always had difficulty memorizing things. He just always used the Table of Contents in the front.

I remember at one time our pastor preached about the parents taking responsibility for the spiritual training of their children in the home and that families should have a time of devotions together. He referred to it as a family altar. My dad didn't want to do it and took no part in it, but let my mom give it a try. She would get us kids all together in the early evening and tried leading some kind of devotional time. We didn't like it and felt awkward. I don't remember how old we were but I do remember it didn't last for long, maybe a week or perhaps a couple weeks but no more than that.

I never understood why my dad didn't support her more in this effort but apparently he felt it wasn't necessary. Perhaps he felt it wasn't her place to do it or perhaps he just didn't like the minister telling him what he should do. I was just happy he wasn't for the idea at the time.

Do you have family devotions? Do you pray together as a family? I think it would be a wonderful thing to do if you start early so it doesn't feel so awkward for everyone. Do you think the saying, "Families who pray together, stay together" is true? These days, at least in the U.S. it seems families are doing great if they can manage to have one meal a day together.


liza said...

Praying before meals is something we still do. We take turns in leading the prayer so it won't be too boring for the kids.

Have a blessed week.

Karen said...

We still pray before meals and feel kinda like we forgot something if we don't. I tried having devotions with the kids, hubby included, but it didn't last long.

Rebecca said...

We give thanks before our meal, have family devotions, and read and study the Bible and other books. Doing so has encouraged closeness, reponsibility, and education with us. We often discuss current events, common foibles of huma nature, and other religions, as well as the gospel. Besides the Bible, we also read books together, like Charles Finney's sermons, books by Lee Strobel or Francis Schaeffer, etc. It has really helped my kids with their education, logical thinking, and godly conduct. I believe family readings and devotions have far too many benefits than detriments to be neglected.

I did not grow up with any kind of devotions (or religion, for that matter), so encouraging family closeness is important to me.

liza said...

Thank you for your prayers Karen. We badly need it right now. Her condition is still the same, we're just waiting for her to go, we're just praying that she won't suffer much.

Have a blessed week.

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

Liza--That's nice you take turns praying, kind of like the Waltons? I remember when my mom was in the hospital and they told us she wouldn't be able to hold on much longer, we spent days hanging around just waiting for her to die--it was very sad and depressing!

Karen--Sounds similar to my experience. I think the husbands really need to take the lead in family devotions if they're going to work. As wives, we can pray God would put that desire into their heart and give them courage to be the spiritual leader in the home.

Rebecca--Sounds like you have a great thing going there! Keep up the good work!

Homestay Mama said...

Karen, I thought I was reading about my life when reading your post. My Mom and Dad were just like your parents.

I do pray before meals when I have people eating with me. When I'm alone, I forget! Shame on me! Since I'm a single person now, I find having personal devotions is very comforting, meaningful and important.

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

Homestay Mama--I bet you would like my book then too!

Mike Foster said...

I think anything healthy involving families to keep them together is a good thing.


Fida Abbott said...

Dear Karen,

It was so nice and sweet having a link about meal prayer in your post.

Happy Easter!!!

Regards from Little Mermaid and her Ibu.

n.b. you have been in our list

"My Funny Dad, Harry" Book Giveaway

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