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by Dan Williams

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“Jesus told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them... to the people...” (Matthew 15:35-36)

“And Jesus took bread, gave thanks, and broke it and gave it to them...” (Luke 22:20)

“Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:3-4)

    When your family sits down to eat, does everyone immediately “dig in” and start gobbling food or do you pause to give thanks to God for the daily bread you have received?

    Jesus teaches us by example the importance of praying before we eat. Such a practice reinforces our sense of gratitude for the blessings we have received; it “consecrates” our food by recognizing the goodness and holiness of God’s gifts; it brings the blessings of the Lord upon our family; and it invites Jesus to our supper table.

    In far too many homes today, the sacredness of the supper table has been forgotten. Many American families no longer sit down together to eat, choosing instead to randomly graze like cattle through the kitchen at will, then plopping down in front of a blaring television.

    Dennis Lowe, director of the Center for the Family at Pepperdine University, has called attention to a number of studies suggesting that when young people frequently eat dinner with their parents, they:

  • have better relationships
  • are less likely to smoke, use drugs, or drink
  • perform better in school
  • are less likely to have sex at an early age
  • are less depressed
  • and have better nutrition

    We have all heard the saying “Families that pray together, stay together.” It turns out that “Families that dine together, are emotionally and spiritually fine together.” Why would this be so?

If we focus on the future, we can be prepared for what is ahead.
    The daily ritual of eating together — the shared experience of putting your knees under the same table on a regular basis, the opportunity to set aside one part of your day for a common meal — is not a trivial action. In reality, eating together is one of the practices that provide the structure which makes us a family. Table time together gives individuals the opportunity to relax, to belong, and to be accountable to one another. Table talk together provides opportunities to converse, to check in with each other, and to check up on each other.

    When Jesus instituted the Communion, he took what was ordinarily a family-based rite, the observance of the Passover meal, and turned it into a celebration of fellowship for his disciples. In our modern culture, we need to reverse that process: the communion of fellow-Christians is a type of the shared life that ought to occur at the family table. (cf. Luke 24:28-35; Acts 2:42,46)

    So turn off that television, slow down your fast food lifestyle, gather the family together at your table tonight and bow your heads to thank God for the meal before you. Don’t know where to begin? Consistency and sincerity are far more important for a mealtime prayer than length or eloquence. Consider using the following petition to get started: “Father, We thank you for every blessing we have received, and especially now for this food. Bless this meal, and bless this home. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 
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      © 2002, Dan Williams. Used by permission.

      Title: ""
      Author: Dan Williams
      Publication Date: November 5, 2002


 
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