We thank thee for this food, dear Lord.
Bless it to thy glory
and our good for Jesus’ sake.
Growing up, my family would gather in a circle and say that prayer aloud before eating. My mom tells me it was written by my Great-Great-Great-Uncle Charlie some time after emigrating from Sweden in the 1880s. So by the time I came around, it had likely been professed for nearly one century all throughout my family tree.
But despite its lasting legacy, I never paid much attention to the words of that invocation. It was just a chant to me—a spoken melody my family murmured at meals. And as a kid, if I simply cited my lines and kept pace with the group, then I could I eat.
I’ve continued chanting before meals.
Over the years, I replaced rehearsed recitation with unscripted petitions, but the song remained the same. I’d still find myself robotically repeating rhetoric. I’d still catch myself mindlessly expressing words to my God without deeper consideration of the meanings behind them.
Until our health began to fail.
When my wife got sick in October and required surgery in December, prayers become pleas. And when the stress of life began to take a toll on my body, maxims meant something. When life depended on divine disruption, I realized that thoughtless chants could no longer suffice.
And that’s when I started paying attention to the words I’d say before meals. Because I really needed the food my wife was eating to repair her broken body. I really needed the nutrients I was consuming to do my body good. I really needed my son’s good health to continue. And so I prayed.
And today, the words that exit and the food that enters really mean something.
God, bestow perfect kindness on me.
Use the very fruits, nuts, vegetables, meat, fish, or poultry — now fully mature and ready for this moment in time.
Take this bowl of nutrients and unify them in my mouth into a perfect blend of tastes, textures, and smells.
Let them do what you created them to do.
Make it personal. Seek out my deficiencies and restore them. Identify my excesses and reduce their hold on me. Satisfy my hunger.
Restore me to full health. Cycle these nutrients through all of me. Defeat the sicknesses either awake or dormant inside of me and strengthen the defenders of health.