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My family is one of loyal grace-sayers.
Whenever we sit down to eat as a family, we unfailingly bow our heads, close our eyes, and thank God for his provision of the meal before us. We've done this ever since I was little.
But recently I noticed something strange.
While I'm in the habit of doing this with my family (or when I'm eating with anyone really), I rarely say grace when I'm eating alone. In most of my solitary breakfasts and lunches, I don't take the five seconds to pray and reflect with gratitude — merely because I don't even think about. Asking a blessing has become embedded in communal tradition and thus divorced from its purpose — to pause and intentionally iterate my dependance on God for his care.
Recently I read Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. At one point, she talks about the decision to make her bed every day. Each morning after she does it, she sits on the end of the bed and just pauses. Why? To slow down and spend a few moments praying, giving thanks, and preparing for the day.
This intentional gratitude reorients her perspective over something entirely ordinary and mundane.
And that is a gift of saying grace before our meals — a gift I miss out on when I'm too busy, hungry, or distracted. Of course, my mindset fits in well with the hurried, harried pace of our culture. No time to stop! Eat while working, eat fast, eat now!
This is why I've started saying grace before every meal. Because I want to be a person who slows down, and frankly, I'm not so good at that. I want to be a person who is grateful, intentional, and faces life with loose hands and radical dependance on God. Stopping before each meal to thank God is one small step toward doing that.
It's also a bold (albeit ordinary) way to rebel against the idol of busyness and the pace of our culture. To stop. Stop working, stop eating, stop worrying, stop texting, and step back. Pray. Slowly. Savor this pause. Then eat with gratitude.
Because we have a lot to be grateful for.