The dinner prayer is a Christian tradition that I like.
I grew up in a household that practiced dinner prayer. My dad would lead us, before the meal. I can still hear his tone, his cadence, even a certain phrase within the whole: “Be with us in the days and weeks to come, at work and at play, and let us be ever mindful of your will.”
I know many families practice the dinner prayer, and in many different ways. Some bow privately, while others reach out and hold hands. It can be silent, quiet, loud. Some add a devotional reading, or even sing. You may notice some that pray in restaurants or other public places before they eat.
I pray before dinner with my own family. I think it’s nice to set that expectation, that discipline. No matter how poorly my prayer life may be going on my own, I am at least going to address my Father once that evening. It is a time for the family to come together, face-to-face, after their respective days. As with any other prayer, it is an opportunity to voice our concerns and thanks to God, our praise and our apologies.
It is not quite a sacrament, but the sentiment is largely echoed in communion, which originated with the Last Supper, held by Jesus with his disciples shortly before his crucifixion and told across the gospels. Here is the version found in Mark 14 (ESV):
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
I believe the dinner prayer has value, and a great place within the spiritual motions of a Christian family (or on one’s own!). I hope it is a tradition that continues for countless generations to come. If I can lead my children to lead such prayers with their own families in the future, I will count that as a victory.
Any opportunity we have to commune with the Lord is a good one, and the dinner prayer is a great, tangible way to live out scriptural truths: Where two or more of you are gathered, as iron sharpens iron, man shall not live by bread alone, etc.
But my favorite passage about sharing meals is likely Acts 2:42 (ESV):
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Simple. True. Worthy.
May we continue to devote ourselves similarly.