I’m going to be honest. Our mealtime prayers have been getting on my nerves.
Years ago, we thought it would be better if we abandoned the rote prayers at mealtime — the, “For this food make us truly thankful,” kind — for unmemorized heartfelt prayers of thanksgiving. Not that there’s anything wrong with rote prayer, mind you. We just worried at the time that the prayers were merely uttered, not felt. So we switched it up a bit and tried to go for a more whimsical approach. But a tableful of very hungry adolescents and beautifully worded heartfelt prayers don’t go hand in hand. Our prayers end up sounding less than heartfelt.
The prayers usually go something like this:
The hungriest person at the table volunteers to pray.
“Thankyouforthisfoodandthankformommyforcookingitamenpleasepassthemeat…” All in one breath.
Sometimes, for variety, we might ask another one of the children to say the prayer. This is what that might sound like:
“Thaaaaankkkk yooouuuuu God for this food. Thank you for mommy making the rice and for making my favorite chicken. I’m glad we got the extra lesson of math done and that mommy read an extra chapter of Hank the Cowdog. Thaaaankkkk yooooouuuu that Robby and Sammy got home safely from running practice. Oh, and thaaaaannnnank yooooouuuuu that Daddy got home saaaafely from work. And thaaaaannnnnk yooouuuuou that Tommy and Mommy and I got home saaaafely. Lets hope Caroline is having a good daaaaaaaay. I pray for Keeeeennnnnnny. Please keep him saaaafe. Oh, and keep Caroline saaaafe. Thank you for Toooooommmmmmy letting me play his iPod todaaaaayyyyyy…” There’s nothing quite like a captive audience! (And nothing quite like cold food.)
Either way, it’s been getting on my nerves.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I decided to try something new. Earlier in the day I’d asked the kids to write down three or four things they were thankful for or things the wanted to pray for on little slips of paper and fold them up and put them in a jar. Then I explained that at mealtime we’d take turns and each night we’d pull out three pieces of paper and pray for those things.
Tommy: “So… it’s kind of like a prayer lottery?”
Me: (Trying not to laugh) “Um. Not a lottery, exactly…”
Robby: “Can we put the same prayer in a bunch of times. You know, to guarantee it’ll get prayed for?”
Me: (Again, trying not to laugh) “Um. I don’t think so. No. Don’t do that.”
Madeline: “Can I put anything in there? Anything? Anything at all?”
Me: (Trying not to roll my eyes) “Sure. Anything.”
Sammy: “I can’t think of anything. I’ve tried to think. But I can’t think of anything.”
Me: (Trying not to shout) “Good grief!”
Later at dinner…
The appointed pray-er pulled out the three cards and unfolded the papers, and from across the table I heard, “May the odds be ever in your favor!”
Yeah, we’re pretty much spiritual giants around here.
But… the jar is full of things we are thankful for! And for that I’m thankful.
How do you do mealtime prayers at your house?