After my mom remarried, she came up with a really strange tradition for our blended family to do. We prayed before we shared a meal together.
Praying before we eat isn’t unusual – a lot of us do that. And before she remarried, my siblings and I took turns praying for our food. My stepdad is Catholic, so he has a simple prayer he offers before each meal: “Bless us, oh Lord, for these – thy gifts – which we are about to receive from thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
But my mom decided that now that we were a new family, we needed a new ritual. So we sing the Doxology before we eat together. Unless you grew up Methodist (like my mom), you may not know that song off hand.
It goes like this:
In Methodist churches, you sing it together every week, so it was very familiar to her. And now we all sing it together whenever we share a meal together (Amanda had to learn it when she married into the family).
It’s… a pretty weird way to pray for a meal.
But prayer is a strange practice in general, isn’t it?
A lot of us were taught prayers as kids – “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” (Whoa that gets dark SO FAST!) or “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food.”
As we get older, those prayers seem a little simple, but the next steps can be tough. Maybe we learned an acronym like ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (nothing like a bunch of $10 words to make prayer less intimidating, right?!). Or we hung out with people who love to pray but it’s a little awkward…
“Lord Jesus, we just come to you now lord, and we just want to lift up your name lord as we come together to just praise your holy name lord Jesus…” Like… they talk for quite a while without saying a whole lot.
Most of us think of prayer as asking God for things. And while that’s part of what prayer is, when we reduce prayer to just asking for stuff, we miss the purpose and nature of prayer.