[This is me beginning of a series on things we do without thinking as Christians. Maybe we don’t remember why we do them. They can be big or small things. If you’d like to suggest a topic for this series comment below.]
Once upon a time a man was hunting in the woods. He was a long way from civilization when he ran into a grizzly bear. Doing his best to move quietly away from the bear he stepped on a twig and it snapped loudly.
At that the bear noticed the hunter and began to make chase, so the man ran as fast as he could to get away from the bear. As each second passed the bear inched closer to the hunter. When the hunter couldn’t run any further he knelt down and prayed, “Lord, please make this bear a Christian.”
The bear was running full speed to get to the man, and when it arrived it stopped suddenly. It got down on its knees and the hunter heard the bear say, “Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive.”
This is a silly story, but if you are a Christian how many times have you heard this prayer or said this prayer before you’ve begun to eat? For many cultures it is odd enough that Christians pray before meals (a ritual which is actually healthy), but the prayer seems odd, doesn’t it?
“Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive.”
Hasn’t He already blessed it? Didn’t God cause it to grow? Didn’t He provide it for you? Didn’t He fill it with nutrients to give you strength and energy? He HAS blessed it!
So why do we pray this prayer? Well, it goes back to the King James translation of the bible. When Jesus was in the upper room and they were partaking of the last supper the scripture said that Jesus broke the bread, but what he did before that changed the way we began our meals for generations.
The King James Version says this in Matthew 26:26
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
In looking at the original language this passage doesn’t really translate that way. Instead, it is better translated that instead of blessing the bread he “gave thanks” for the bread.
Doesn’t that make more sense? Shouldn’t we be thankful for that which God has already blessed? It’s just a small thing, but watch and see how many people do this. The next time you’re somewhere that the person praying asks God to bless the food just smile and be grateful with an “Amen”.
[Next week we will address why we take our hats off during prayers.]