February 27, 2010
There are many reasons why saying grace before dinner is a good idea. None of the following include “because you should” or “for God.”
1. Saying grace builds patience
The food smells good and you are starving. Waiting just a few more seconds, or minutes isn’t going to kill you but it will make you stronger. This is one small exercise in patience that the whole family can practice together.
2. Saying grace reminds us we are blessed
There are plenty of things to worry about or that put us in a funk. One moment of remembering our blessings can reroute our moods, help us unwind, and bring us back to what matters.
3. Saying grace is good for your marriage
I can’t say if its good for your relationship with your kids but saying grace is great for your marriage. You can pray for them, you can pray for your relationship, and you can thank God for each other. It’s also nice to look up every now and then and see the other with their head bowed deep in thought with love.
4. Saying grace is an opportunity to pray
Besides remembering our blessings, we can thank God for looking out for our families and friends, especially those that are sick or hurting, and ask God to take care of them. We can also pray for ourselves, the world, or anything else that has us concerned. Sometimes grace is the only time we will remember to seek God on these matters, so by all means, use the opportunity to release your burdens.
5. Saying grace is a journey
Sometimes your grace may be deep and thoughtful. Other times it may be so crude you laugh out loud! Whatever the days grace brings, it’s real and we ought to embrace our humanity. This is where I’m grateful we say silent graces. Some days I look up after my tired attempt at gratitude, and see the man I love has got us covered. Sometimes I find inspiration from him to continue my prayer. Sometimes I just ask for the patience to get through it cause I’m tired. Sometimes it’s the other way around. And sometimes we say grace out loud and remind each other that grace is all sorts of things.
Saying grace can’t bring everyone to the table together or cook the dinner for you but it can complete your efforts once you get the opportunity to sit down. Even if you don’t believe in god, grace before meals can be a healthy moment of reflection and gratitude. If you think it’s a hard tradition to start, mention it to your family or friends away from the table and encourage a discussion on it. You could approach it on a trial basis and do a silent grace so no one feels compelled to pray. This is how we started and our discussion continues.
We don’t usually say grace when we are out to eat or with other people. When we are guests we let others lead the meal rituals. We have chosen a more private approach but if you are bolder, by all means do what feels right.
What are some reasons you say grace or don’t. Is your grace silent, a song, a well known verse, or improv? Does someone say grace and how do you decide who? What advice could you give people who want to, but don’t know how to start?