It's among the very simplest of childhood prayers. Maybe you taught your children to say it at the dinner table. Perhaps your parents taught it to you as your first prayer:

God is great; God is good.
Let us thank Him for our food.

I stumbled onto a piece recently that was written by a self-described "secular" person. She was writing about the positive difference it had made both in her life and in that of her family when they began saying a blessing at mealtimes. It was clear that her notion of prayer and blessing wasn't quite the same as mine, but that isn't really the point here. She wrote very candidly and movingly about the positive impact on her busy, noisy life to pause and to be grateful for good things.

She's right, you know. When that sense of appreciation for all the positives in your life is coupled with praise to the One who has provided them, you have ...

  • Meaningful prayer.
  • A clearer sense of self.
  • A moment of appreciation to the Deity who is the giver of every good gift.
  • An affirmation that God's grace is real to you.

Our son was about four years old, and it was his turn to say a prayer of thanksgiving over our lunch. With open-face sandwiches on our plates, he folded his hands and began:

"Deah God, we fank fee ..." (Note: He wasn't doing well with his r-words and th-words at four! But back to the prayer ...)"Deah God, we fank fee foh de bwead and de tomato ..." (Another Note: Yes, he was peeking! But back to the prayer ...)"And we fank fee foh de meat and foh ... and foh ..." (Final Note: He knew what lettuce was, but it just wouldn't come to him at that critical moment. So he pointed his still-folded hands toward it and continued to pray ...)"And foh dis stuff. Amen."

And I've been telling the story ever since.

All are blessings we did not create.
A mealtime grace or blessing or prayer — whatever you choose to call it — is such a tiny little piece of the spiritual life. And they don't even have to be spoken aloud. Why, when I'm with friends in a restaurant and there is an awkward pause as the food arrives, I usually say "Thank you, God!" in the direction of the group. "Restaurant prayer," I explain. No need to call the noisy house to order or to make a production of it. But being thankful is good and honoring to God as the giver of every good gift.

So let a woman of what may be marginal faith remind all of us this week about food and air, friends and work, sunshine and rain. All are blessings we did not create. It is good to recognize them as gifts and to be thankful. It makes it even more natural in stressful times to go to that same God to name life's hurts and pains and to ask for aid — without feeling guilty as a thankless beggar.

Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done (Philippians 4:6 NLT).