"Lord, bless this stick of gum that I am about to chew. May it give my breath an aroma pleasing unto you."
Could our prayers before meals become a little to mechanical?
Once, at a church function where snacks were to follow the service, the benediction included a blessing of the refreshments (two prayers for the price of one). In the fellowship hall the snacks were blessed again, possibly out of habit.
After the function, a small group went out for coffee and dessert. It was suggested that we pray over the coffee and bread. Someone even considered praying again when more food was brought out.
We pray before meals to show our gratitude for God's provision. Dinnertime can be a good time to pray together as a family. When the extended family gathers at a meal to celebrate a special event such as a holiday, birthday or graduation, prayer can be particularly meaningful.
However, we must guard against our prayers becoming empty and repetitious, said more out of habit than gratitude. Sometimes people pray before meals out of superstition. They are afraid that God will be offended and that something bad may happen to them. "I hope you don't choke on that," is a comment I've heard directed at a person who did not wait for grace to be said before filling his mouth.
Sometimes people pray before a meal to impress others around them with their spirituality. They take this opportunity to work the room and, maybe, correct an errant soul.
"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord," declares Psalm 92:1. Let us remember to pray before meals as God leads us but let our prayer come from the heart. God is not so easily offended that he will punish us for not praying before a meal but he does want his children to be grateful. When we do pray before a meal we make God a part of our daily life and that, too, is good.