Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.
Several years ago when I was in college I began to have several discussions with classmates about praying habits. One of the habits we discussed was prayers said before meals. For a while I had been feeling like my prayers before meals were just something I did because that was something I was supposed to do. I felt like my heart was left out of the prayer and that I was just saying it to say it. So I decided that I was not going to pray every time I sat down to eat. When I got married, Crystal and I started praying together before our meals. We did this for a while until we both realized we were doing it for the sake of doing it. So we decided that we were going to stop praying before meals.
We both felt like our decision to do this was somewhat Biblical. In Matthew 6 Jesus says about prayer … “And when you pray do not go on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many word.” What I took from that passage is we are supposed to be praying prayers that are heart felt and prayers with purpose. I felt like my meal prayers were not prayers of the heart and not prayers with purpose. However, after reading today’s passage (Acts 27) I am forced to reexamine my practice of meal prayers.
In the middle of the storm, when things are really looking bleak, and much of the cargo has been overthrown; Paul encourages the crew to eat. As Paul is passing out the food, before they eat he offers up a prayer of thanks. I have seen over and over that at meal time what the people in the Bible do is offer a prayer of thanks. Even Jesus did it before he feed the 5,000 on the Sea of Galilee. If Paul is doing it, if Jesus is doing it, then there must be something I have missed. Don’t you hate when reading God’s Word forces you to reexamine something you were doing and thought you had a scriptural basis for? I do not know where I am going to end up on this idea of prayer before meals, but I do know today’s reading is forcing me to look deeper into my heart on this matter.