The following template is one that I have used several times in workshops that I have given on the topic of food and faith. Saying grace is sometimes the first introduction we have to prayer as young people, and is often a standard component of a family meal–especially at holidays and celebrations. Mealtime blessings are a great way to reflect on our relationship with God, and with what we eat.
I used this format last year at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church where I had the privilege of presenting two workshops on food and faith for the Episcopal Church Women’s Triennial Meeting, and I used it again this morning at a conference workshop looking at food justice in New Haven, CT. This simple format that can be easily used for any kind of prayer, but in this workshop we used it to write prayers based on a Bible study we had just done in small groups. The passages used in the Bible study are included at the bottom of this page, along with the study questions that were meant to lead us into prayer. I hope you find this useful as you continue to think about what you believe and how you eat. If you have a minute, drop me a line and let me know if or how you have used this in your own life.
so that ________________.
Below are some of the prayers that previous groups have written. I think they are beautiful and simple, and capture the way in which we acknowledge God’s goodness and our dependence on God for all that we have and all that we need. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. What would your prayer be if you were to write your own?
God who provides everything we need and asks us to share our abundance, we ask for restraint and attentiveness to how we eat and what we eat, and consideration and compassion in how we grow, harvest, and prepare food for ourselves and others, so that we make the best possible use of your creation, to provide for all your children, from your bounty. Amen
God who is the giver of all, we ask for your loving kindness in providing for our daily needs so that in turn we have the strength and courage to provide and care for your creation. Amen.
God who is the creator, provider, and protector of all, we ask for the wisdom to live our lives intentionally so that we may fulfill God’s dream for us. Amen.
God who has given us all we need to nourish our bodies; every plant based food, we ask for knowledge and passion for the food we eat so that we are better stewards of God’s gifts and show our gratitude for your gift of abundance. Amen.
God who has given us our daily bread, we ask for wisdom in our decisions everyday so that we can become good stewards of all you have created. Amen.
God our teacher and sustainer, who provides all of creation with breath of life, we ask for wisdom in making choices in our daily lives, so that all can experience life’s abundance. Amen.
God who gives us a bountiful crop, we ask for the knowledge to do thy will and the strength to follow thy word so that there will be no hungry children tonight. Amen.
God who has created ecosystems that work, we ask for guidance to be good stewards of all that you have given us, so that we live into caring for all Creation as your beloved. Amen.
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to present these workshops on food and faith, and am grateful for the participation and enthusiasm of all of the people who attended. I am especially encouraged by the increasing number of people who are interested in thinking theologically about what and how they eat. Keep up the good work!
The following passages were used to encourage reflection about the following two questions, which then informed the prayers that were written afterwards. There are many passages in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament that include food, but rarely do we read them as being about food. These two questions invite us to start at what is said about food and to go deeper from there. What do you think the Bible says about God and food?
1. What does this passage say about God?
2. What does this passage say about food or the way we eat?
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
For I am the Lord your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming creature that moves on the earth. For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt, to be your God; you shall be holy, for I am holy.
This is the law pertaining to land animal and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms upon the earth, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.
When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings. When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow.
When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.
Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
1 Corinthians 11:20-22, 27-29, 33-34
When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s Supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you!
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.
So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation. About the other things I will give instructions when I come.