Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Saying "Grace"

Whether it's called "saying grace," "table prayers" or "giving thanks," offering a blessing before a meal is probably the most common form of prayer in American homes. "We, as people of faith, understand everything we have is a gift from God, including the things that sustain us on a daily basis," said the Rev. Vince Rohn, a pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Springfield. "That's why we teach our kids to say grace before a meal. We want to thank God for providing us with that gift."

At a more secular level, a declaration of gratitude at the dinner table can strengthen the bonds of fellowship for those eating together, emphasizing the joy of belonging. Giving thanks for food can be seen in every culture and religion, according to the book "Bless This Food: Ancient & Contemporary Graces From Around the World" by Adrian Butash.

Some people improvise when saying grace, while others recite a specific prayer. Rohn recommends getting children involved by teaching them a simple blessing and asking them to recite it before a meal. "My son simply says, 'Thank you Jesus, for food, family and friends.'" Another easy blessing for children, Rohn said, is "God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food." Rohn says a standard grace prayer can be customized. "What our family has started doing is having the kids say 'God is great, God is good' and then my wife and I will follow with an extemporaneous prayer thanking the Lord for the day or something special or for watching over a family member who is ill," he said.

(post by Kathryn Rem, Gatehouse News Service, April 24, 2009)

My Louisiana family started a tradition of holding hands around the table while “saying grace” back when the grandkids started arriving. My little ones had learned the prayer, “God is great, God is good, now we thank Him for our food; By thy hand, we are fed, Thank you God for daily bread”, and my daddy began to have us say this all together when we would all be gathered at the home place. He has passed on now but we still do this when we all get together at my mother’s home, almost without fail.

In Norman Rockwell's autobiography he gives the story behind this picture. A reader of the Saturday Evening Post sent him a suggestion that he eventually used for this painting, which was the most popular cover he ever did. A woman in Philadelphia had seen a Mennonite family saying grace in an automat and she thought Mr. Rockwell could use the idea. He painted a Thanksgiving cover of an old woman and a little boy saying grace in a railroad cafeteria, watched by the people around them- some surprised, some puzzled.(From his April 29, 1959 diary)

For more about saying grace, visit this beautiful blogspot.

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