How many times have you heard (or used!) that line in a prayer over the food? (I know there a few variations, but that one is a classic.) Have you ever really thought about it? I find it quite humorous, especially when it’s used at a church function where the food will clearly not nourish or strengthen anyone’s body (donuts, pizza, cupcakes, soda, cookies, etc.).
Why do we bless the food? Can the prayer change the elements of a donut and make it healthy for our consumption? If so, I should have prayed harder over the food and water on my mission in Argentina…it might have saved me countless hours on the toilet. TMI? I know. Maybe it was my vain repetitions so God didn’t hear my cries; my comp, however, sure heard my cries from the bathroom!! I know – way TMI, but at least you are laughing now. I’ll have to blog about bathroom experiences in Argentina some time.
In our house, we decided that rather than asking God to bless our food, we would instead simply give thanks that we actually have good food to eat. (This was a big step for my wife who was haunted by various Mormon legends about severe cases of food poisoning striking if food were ingested before it was blessed.) I’m not saying our way is the right way, but for now it’s what makes sense for us.
DONUTS: YOU ARE HEALED OF ALL SUGARS, ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS, FATS, HYDROGENATED OILS, DYES, AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORING! Hallelujah! Nom nom nom.
Side note: Please offer prayers that my children will eat something other than cold cereal and macaroni and cheese. Please.
I (quite thoughtlessly) said these very words when praying over the lunch I fed my children on this very day. But, I did totally feed them a healthy pasta salad, so at least there is that…
Better than most Leah!!
I think you are minimalizing the power of prayer just a little. You dont have to ask God to have the food nourish and strengthen, but asking for a simple blessing on well-intentioned food is quite different. Prayer is one powerful tool we’ve been endowed with, don’t forget the impact it can have.
What works for me is saying Grace. Being thankful for the food, hopefully that is good enough
I get saying Grace, but actually “blessing” the food or “asking for a blessing” seems strange to me too. It’s also interesting that women are able to do this–right? I can’t bless people, but I can bless their food. Very weird.
Ha, Mandy! I’d never thought of that before!
not that I think you shouldn’t be able to bless the food or people–I think you should–, but to be be scrupulous about this, in a blessing on the food, we ask Heavenly Father to do the blessing. I was taught that when giving a blessing to a person, I was to say, “I bless” or “we bless you” and to avoid shirking the responsibility to God to ask him to do the blessing.
My husband is of the opinion that the practice of blessing food is a non-doctrinal holdout from the apostasy. We realized that, in every scriptural account of blessing food, something miraculous was being done with said food (feeding the 5,000, performing the sacrament, etc.) So we also just give thanks.
I agree Paul. Blessing the food won’t change the nutritional value of donuts or pizza. Simply giving thanks is probably appropriate enough, though I don’t find fault with the “bless the food” crowd.
I don’t love those vain repetitions, especially on food prayers. What I do love is saying “thank you,” for the food that I eat, and meaning it. I also frequently say that thank you prayer after I have eaten, when my body has been made full. My husband does not love this, as he prefers that I would pray before. I heard some Jewish individuals do both, which I also like. That way they pray when they feel the lack, and they feel the satisfaction of the lack.
Oooh! I like that idea!
I will honestly ask sometimes for the food to not do too much damage. If we’re sincere in asking for the food to nourish us when it’s a ward potluck and 70% desserts, then I know we’re not being honest and pretty much asking God to part the read sea for us EVERY time we eat, which then cheapens what we say since we don’t really believe it…hence it is a vain repetition. I’ve used it too, but usually when I can’t think of what to say or I am grateful but don’t know how to word it so I say what I’ve heard. I don’t think anyone is, however, serious about it nourishing our bodies, but that then makes me worry that we teach our children that prayers aren’t “really” honest.
Back when I was a child I remeber asking my mum if we could pray to say thank you afterwards. I think we did it a few times, but it didn’t catch on.
We always pray first. I do think thanks is very important.
When it is my son’s turn, he goes into some detail giving thanks for previous digestive comfort, and asking for continuance of that blessing. Do you think that might have helped you on your mission?
I think it is time for some new trite phrases for our time. Here’s a stab:
Please soften the hearts of the search engine code writers, that the missionary FB and blog posts will find the honest in heart.
Please protect us from the power of the adversary and his trolls.
Please bless our spam filters with the power of discernment, that we may know the difference between good and evil.
Please bless and protect us that no virus, power interruption or bandwidth shortage will beset us.
I am interested in learning more about the history of why we bless our food, and what exactly the blessing is intended to do. I have never blessed my food with an expectation that the properties of the food would change, but I can’t say that I have any idea what the blessing is actually intended to accomplish. In my mind, it is really all a prayer of thanksgiving, and that is typically my focus.
Also, I love your sidenote. 🙂
All about the side note!!!
I always thought that! But donuts need all the help they can get. Lol.
That’s the symptoms of doubting Thomas. You started to question everything using humor. In fact you don’t believe prayer can do something and God is listening 24/7..sorry 24/7 is also humorous?…
To me it’s the equivalent of building a Tower of Babel…trying to get something for nothing, or making our own rules to get what we want…disregarding Natural Law (Natural Law: to be healthy, you have to wisely find and consume healthy food), and attempting to use a shortcut to get what we want. It’s mockery of God’s Natural Law.
Possibly even worse than mocking God…it creates superstition. I don’t ask for anything in prayer; I just attempt to open myself up to receiving wisdom on the causes I need to perform to get the effects I want.