Reflections on thankfulness – Day 7 – Thank God when you are eating
Luke 24:30-31 (NIV)
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight.
It’s a common tradition for Christians to thank God for food as they begin eating. For Jews, the tradition includes specific prayers; for example before eating bread, an Orthodox Jew may well say this prayer:
“We bless You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”
It’s a wonderful declaration of the source of all our food, bringing a recognition of God’s ultimate sovereignty into the micro-level of our daily lives.
When we look through the gospels, we see Jesus giving thanks multiple times when breaking bread, which may well have been a traditional prayer like the one above. He does it when feeding the 5,000: “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish” (John 6:11). Just before this Jesus has been likening himself to the manna which God sent from heaven to feed the Israelites in the desert.
He broke bread during his last Passover with his friends: “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’” (Mark 14:22). Here Jesus is building on his teaching about manna, continuing to connect his body with bread. This is now part of our communion tradition.
For two of Jesus’ disciples, his most significant ‘giving thanks’ was in their home in Emmaus after he died and came back to life. Just prior to the verses from Luke 24:30-32, Jesus has been walking with the disciples, explaining the Scriptures during which time their “hearts burned within them” (v32). But it’s when he gives thanks and breaks the bread at the table that their eyes are opened to seeing who he really is. When we give God thanks for our food, we are joining a long tradition of thanks, recognising both God’s provision for us and his presence with us.
Share this with your family
What ways of saying thank you do we already do? Let’s chat together about whether it helps us to be thankful to God and recognise that he is the ultimate source of our food. We could invent a new way of giving God thanks – a song or chant, a new prayer or perhaps lighting a candle and saying silent thanks for 10 seconds. Let’s try something new and find something which works for our family in the season we’re currently in.
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