The theology of saying grace

By: Ng Shaowen

Well, there’s a theology in everything because, “For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20.

So it’s in eating too!

Recently, i’ve been asked (i don’t know why) in a few different occasions on why we say grace before we eat. During the Young Adults Retreat a few months ago, Dev also asked why we say “Lord, bless the food in front of us.. etc” So amidst all these, i think it’s quite a fun topic to expound on.

Here’s why we say grace:

1) We have dominion over our livestock!

We thank God that we’re not the food of animals, that is. God has, from the beginning, given us dominion (Gen 1:28) over animals. These animals/plants don’t consume us for food. Thank God for food because we acknowledge that God has made all animals/plants for our purposes.

2) God knows our need for food!

We don’t put food on our tables! Sure, we earn money. But the root of all food (or things) is God the Almighty (1Tim 6:17). Paul acknowledges that (1 Cor 3:6). We have food whenever we need it! Every dime or food scrap we get, has gone through His divine hands and is apportioned to us (Matt 6:26). That’s why we pray “Father, thank you for the food”, much like Jesus did before turning a schoolboy’s lunch into a feast for 5000 (John 6:11), because we acknowledge that He puts the food on our tables.

3. God gives us a variety of food!

Try going without food or drink for a day. You’ll feel horrible. That’s why Matt 4:2 feels like a huge understatement. God knows that, that’s why He instituted eating from the beginning of human history (Gen 2:15&16). Now imagine eating only plain rice, every meal, every single day. Food is a necessity of life which by implication keeps us alive. However, when we consume our meals, we’ve such a huge selection of cuisines and food at any point of time! God is not boring. He is a good Father! He loves us and gives us choices, even on food.

But more importantly, here’s why we must say grace.

Romans 1:21  “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

When we eat and enjoy things without giving thanks, we are acting much like the animals we’re in dominion of. We just eat without recognising and enjoying the glory of a God who provides for us. Of course, because we have this capability, but many times, we ignore giving thanks and being thankful to God, God is unhappy with our unthankful and ungrateful hearts.  This is much like an ungrateful child who takes his parent’s gifts for granted.

SO my point is, when we say grace, we don’t bless the food. We bless the Lord and God who is gracious without measure (Psalm 103 is great psalm to demonstrate) because “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:4)”,  “But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children (Psalm 103:17)”

Happy eating! And don’t forget to say grace 🙂

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