Nourish Your Spirit
Lord, Bless My Plate
By Beth Bence Reinke, MS, RD
I surveyed the buffet tables as my son's football team gathered for an end-of-season potluck dinner. The "team moms" formed a huddle, whispering our concerns about the inadequacy of the accumulating food. Would it be enough?
"Please multiply it, Lord!" I said out loud. If God could feed five thousand from one boy's lunch, I had faith He could stretch fried chicken and pasta salad to fuel a famished football team.
After everyone prayed in unison over the food, the cheerleaders and parents filled their plates. Then the football players went through like human piranhas, picking clean every casserole dish and platter. There was just enough food to go around. Thank You, Lord!
Asking God to bless our food is a tradition most Christians follow when breaking bread together as a group. But do we say grace over a bagel and latte as we zip through the drive-thru? Do we ask a blessing over lunch alone at the kitchen table or in the break room with colleagues? Sometimes I catch myself digging in before I remember to thank God for His provision. Have you ever done that?
The Bible has much to say about returning thanks for our food. Jesus set an example for us by offering a blessing at a miraculous picnic. "Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves" (Matthew 14:19). Jesus also gave thanks before breaking bread at the Last Supper (Mark 14:22). The apostle Paul blessed the food while aboard a ship. "…He took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat" (Acts 27: 35).
Praying over our food has numerous benefits:
1) It reminds us that God is the source of all we have, including food. We show our gratefulness to God by praising Him and recalling the blessings He has heaped upon us. Joel 2:26 says, "You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God…"
2) It allows us to honor God during everyday activities like eating. "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God" (Psalm 50:23). When we ask a blessing over our food, we honor God by acknowledging His provision.
3) It is a good witness to other Christians and non-Christians. Saying grace shows that we're willing to publicly acknowledge our dependence on Almighty God for the gift of food. Teaching our children to consistently ask a blessing at meals sets an example they will remember when they become parents.
4) It slows us down for a moment. In our fast-paced lives, stopping all conversation and activity is uncommon. But as we bow our heads, close our eyes, and focus on our gratitude, our spirits are refreshed. In addition, relaxing aids our digestion and helps us enjoy the psychological benefits of eating.
5) It makes us ponder the quality of what we're eating. God will gladly bless the wholesome food He created for us. But what if our plates hold processed foods that barely resemble their original form and have little nutritional value? Could you ask God to bless a donut? A soda? When we ask the Lord to bless our food, it makes us think about what we put into our bodies, perhaps convicting us to make dietary changes.
In his book Living in Divine Health, Dr. Don Colbert recommends praying fervently over our food at each meal as part of a healthful eating plan. Saying grace is important not only for spiritual health, but physical health, too. When we ask God to bless our food, we're unleashing His power to bless our bodies through what we eat.
Many people make detailed requests in their prayers. Likewise, we should think about exactly what we desire food to do for our bodies and then pray specifically about it. I often say something like this: "Dear Lord, thank You for providing this nutritious meal. Please bless the food and allow it to nourish and energize my body. Protect my cells from any harmful impurities that entered the food from the environment or through processing. In Jesus’ name, amen."
Asking God to bless our meals is wise from a spiritual standpoint and prudent for our health. He wants the best for us in everything, including our food. Whether you're dining alone or chowing down with a football team, make it a point to pray over your next meal.
Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water” (Exodus 23:25a).
All verses taken from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.
Beth Bence Reinke is a registered dietitian who writes about food, nutrition, and health topics. She is a mom of two sons and the author of numerous magazine articles for adults and children. Beth and her husband have been CBN partners since 1998.
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