Then He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish He looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke, and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. Matthew 14:19
Good morning Prayer Team!
One occasion where we should always pray is before we eat a meal. Every time in the Bible that we read about Jesus having a meal, He always began by “giving thanks.” We should imitate the same. There are many prayers that one can use before having a meal. The Lord’s Prayer is frequently used, because it refers to our “daily bread” and part of our daily bread is our food. Certainly we should thank God that we have food to eat. When clergy bless a meal, they usually say “Christ our God bless the food and drink of your servants, for You are Holy now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.” Sometimes I add the phrase “and the hands that prepared it,” since I am usually blessing food at a luncheon that I did not prepare. Asking the Lord to bless our food and the hands that prepared it asks for a blessing on your spouse or parents if they have cooked the meal, or on the unknown people in the kitchen at a restaurant when you are eating out. Sometimes the phrase “and multiply it throughout your world,” is added to this prayer. This is a reminder to us that there are those in the world who do not have food to eat, and that we must share our food with those less fortunate. We must support charities that have humanitarian missions. And we must not waste the food we have. A good prayer before eating then, in addition to the Lord’s Prayer, is to say: Christ our God, bless the food and drink we are to partake of (and the hands that prepared it) and multiply it throughout Your world. For You are Holy, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Some other great meal-time prayers come from the Psalms:
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever! Psalm 22:26
The eyes of all look to You and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Psalm 145:15-16
One often overlooked prayer is the prayer at the end of a meal. It is our tradition to “bless the remains” of the table, specifically asking God to bless those in the world who have no food: Christ our God bless the remains of our table and multiply them throughout Your world, for You are Holy, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
The normal order of prayer before a meal is the Lord’s Prayer and then one of these above-mentioned blessings for the food. After the meal, it is customary to offer the blessing written above. And before this blessing, it is customary to offer the following prayer, which I offer as today’s prayer. It is a beautiful prayer that is not said often but I encourage you to adopt this prayer as not only a prayer of thanks after a meal but a prayer of thanks at any time, after any blessing you have received:
We thank You Lord our God, for nourishing us and satisfying us with Your abundance of earthly gifts. Deprive us not of Your heavenly blessings. As You came unto Your Holy Disciples and Apostles granting them peace, come also unto us and save our souls. Amen.
Remember, it’s not important which words you use in prayer when you eat, but it is important to thank God for the food on your table each time you eat.
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The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life. The Prayer Team is a daily devotion written by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, the parish priest at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida. Devotions include a verse from scripture, a commentary from Fr. Stavros, and a short prayer that he writes to match the topic.
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