After He had given thanks…
– 1 Corinthians 11:24
Did you ever hear the story of the man caught in the jungle being chased down by a bear? He ran until his legs could carry him no longer and reached the end of his rope. Admitting his defeat, and just as the bear was about to pounce, the man cried out to God, “Lord, please let this bear be a Christian!”
The bear stopped, held his hands together, closed his eyes and said, “Lord, thank you for this meal.” And … well, you can guess what happened.
This week, I want to look at the simple prayer of gratitude we once shared before every meal. The simple, yet important, words of thanks.
On several occasions in the Bible, when a meal was about to be enjoyed, we read that Jesus “gave thanks” and ate, or broke, or shared a meal. Before giving the food to the multitude, He gave thanks, He blessed the food, and then gave. Before giving the bread to His disciples for supper, He thanked and then He broke the bread and shared it with those beside him.
For whatever reason, our care for thanksgiving to God seems to have diminished over the years. We either feel too ashamed to give thanks in public or, otherwise, feel a word of thanks just isn’t enough for a prayer, so, we end up praying for a multitude of things. “Lord, bless those in Africa. Lord, feed those in Ethiopia. Lord, be with those in hospitals. Lord, keep those in airplanes safe.” However well-intentioned these requests may be, it does not change the fact that we fail to see the importance of the words, “Lord, thank You.”
Why do we do that? Why do we no longer see the importance of heartfelt gratitude for the blessings we have? Granted, our gratitude comes from deeper reaches of the heart when the food is more to our liking; but let me shift your attention to one little boy. This isn’t the same little boy I shared about last week, but a different one.
Whenever my family comes together for a meal, a gentle yet firm voice comes from the littlest member at the table, “I want to pray!” Without fail, my five year old nephew will ask to give thanks at every meal. For those who don’t know my nephew, you may be thinking, “He’s a child. He doesn’t know what he’s saying.” If you thought that, you’d be wrong. If there’s one thing that Mikki doesn’t hold back, it’s his joy and gratitude. His hugs, his kisses and his affection are always on display.
More than that, he takes pride in what he is given. “Look what uncle William got me! Look what dad gave me! Look what mum made for me. Look what jeddo [grandad] taught me. Look what teta [grandma] did for me!”
Thank You. Is it so hard for us, when we come for a meal, to simply say, “Lord, thank You”?
In case anyone misunderstands me, my focus isn’t to keep prayers short; it’s to see the importance of a deep, hearty gratitude that looks at what has been given and says, “Look. Look what God has given. Lord, thank You!”