Praying Before Meals

Sometimes when I’m asked to pray before meals I feel foolish.

Who am I to represent the thoughts of a group of people before God? It’s hard enough expressing my own needs, desires, praise, and thanks.

There are times when, as I begin to pray, I start to think about other things to praise God about. I’d like to mention these things, but then I have to remember that people are just expecting me to bless the meal.

Also, it’s harder to pray using the words we or our when I’m aware that people are busy thinking about which slice of pizza they’re going after once I’m done praying. Or worse: that they’re busy analyzing my prayer.

Sometimes I wish I could pause during my prayer and actually think about what to say to God (using phrases like “Hmm…” or “I guess what I’m trying to say is…”) so that what I say is much more meaningful. But that would be awkward. People would think I’ve messed up the prayer.

And now that I think about it, the way we approach praying before meals in itself is awkward. I know it has its place in the life of the church, but I wonder how often it’s used as a means of tacking the Christian label on activities in which the people have anything but fellowship in mind.

I wonder if the person who took this photo told the kid to pose. I hope not. I hope it was the real thing. I hope his parents or someone else caught him in a moment of honesty before God. I imagine a lot of people would see this photo and say, “Aw, that’s so cute.” If it were real, this cute kid would put us to shame.

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