When I was little before every meal eaten at my grandparents’ house, everyone joined hands and we all prayed together - out loud, with one voice, a memorized prayer blessing our food.
Even though I found joy in that as a child, I did not keep that tradition going when I moved away from my family. Of course we prayed, thanking God for our food before we ate, but it wasn’t until we had kids that I thought of this old, scripted prayer, and we decided to teach it to our boys.
Praying the same prayer repeatedly, several times a day, for lots of years, has had an interesting effect. The words are familiar enough that I don’t have to think about what to say next when I pray them. They’ve sunk in deep, like the Lord’s prayer - which frees me up to reflect on their deeper meaning while praying them.
It’s not a long prayer (no need to torture those who are gathered hungrily around a table!), and of course, this prayer is in German - it goes like this:
Komm Herr Jesus, sei unser Gast, und segne was du uns bescheret hast.
Translated to English:
Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and bless what you have lavished upon us.
On the surface, we ask Jesus to be near and to bless our food.
But deeper down, I am drawn to the word ‘lavish’: So much deeper than a simple ‘give’ or ‘provide’, here’s a picture of God’s extravagance toward us, born out of his deep and abiding love for us. He’s not giving us a bare minimum to survive - he’s spoiling us, showering us with good things, giving us luxuries we cannot deserve.
This of course gives me no choice but to reflect. What are those extravagant gifts? Am I recognizing them for what they are? Am I grateful for them? Often enough, this consideration stops me in my tracks and causes a change of attitude.
For me, lately, this has been about my kids. So often, I feel annoyed with them around mealtimes. Turns out they’re not naturally interested in helping me prepare food, and I have not yet found an effective way to motivate them. I nag, they whine, I threaten, they help sulkily, everyone is stressed by the time we sit down together. In this prayer, God reminds me that these boys are His gift to me. That in fact, they’re not just a gift, they’re an extravagant, lavish gift - something (someones, actually) that He gave me to show his deep and abiding love for me. Can I let go of my annoyance and be grateful instead?
Other days, when we pray before dinner, I’m reminded that the difficult day I’ve had is actually a gift, even if it has worn me out. Can I set aside my tiredness and acknowledge God’s goodness throughout the day?
Right now, today, can I find a gift from God in the crisis our world is living through?
Often, I require a prompting from the Holy Spirit to feel gratitude for God’s gifts. I might be the only one, but if you face a similar struggle, I invite you to reflect on this question for a few minutes and then perhaps write down the answers (for yourself or to share with others.)
What’s something God has lavished on you that you haven’t recognized as a gift yet?
How is God showing you his deep love for you despite difficult circumstances around you?