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Should we Say "Grace" at Meals?

Some people are in the habit of always saying a prayer or "grace" before a meal. It is left to appear that if you do not do so something is wrong with you. Should we say grace at every meal? What did Jesus do?


Jesus Prayed at the Feeding of the 5,000

Mark 6:
39And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.
40And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.
41And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.
42And they did all eat, and were filled.
43And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.
44And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.


Jesus Prayed at the Feeding of the 4,000

Mark 8:
6And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.
7And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.
8So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.
9And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.


Jesus Prayed at the Last Supper

Mark 14:
22And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.
23And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.


Jesus Prayed at a Post-Resurrection Meal

Luke 24:
25Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
33And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
35And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
36And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

With the disciples he met on the road to Emmaus, Jesus did bless the food. It appears to be a sign to the believers.


The Bible Does not Mention Jesus Praying at Another Post-Resurrection Meal

Luke 24:
36And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet.
41And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43And he took it, and did eat before them.

In this case, there is no mention of Jesus blessing the food.


The Bible Does not Mention Jesus Praying at a Corn Field

Mark 2:
23And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

This also found in Matthew 12:1 and Luke 6:1. Unlike the other times, here there is no mention of a blessing.


The Pharisees Criticized Jesus for not Following Their Hand Washing Rules

Mark 7:
1Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.
2And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.
3For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
4And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables.
5Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
6He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

This is also found in Matthew 15:1-3. The Pharisees criticized Jesus because of his lack of ceremony. Again, in this passage, a blessing is not mentioned and the apostles show this to be a rather informal gathering.


The Bible Does not Mention Jesus Praying With the Fish at the Seashore

John 21:
9As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
10Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
11Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
12Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
13Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
14This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

Again, the Bible does not mention Jesus blessing the food.


The Lord's Prayer Does Include Saying Grace

Matthew 6:
9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread.
12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.



1 Thessalonians 5:18 says that in every thing we should give thanks. Does that mean we should always pray before eating? If it does we should also give thanks before doing anything else like getting up in the morning, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, driving down the street, changing the radio station, taking out the garbage, changing the TV channel, going to another web page and everything else. Did you give thanks before you came to this web page? You would not have time to do anything but pray. When the light turns green, do you give thanks before you drive off? OK, some people must be praying before they go and ... some people should. I have seen lots of people say "grace" but I have not seen any person that actually believes that you should stop, say a prayer and give thanks before everything. Do you give thanks before you give thanks? At the times when you do pray before a meal, do you call it grace? Maybe you shouldn't. Grace means an unmerited favor, and in the Bible, it refers to the unmerited favor of redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. Doesn't naming your blessing "grace" dilute the meaning of God's gift to us? Isn't this really a tradition? Aren't you making this an ordinance? Isn't this really just being legalistic? In Mark 7:7 Jesus said, "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." How is this different from the Pharisees?


Conclusion

Saying grace or a blessing before a meal is not commanded in the Bible. To eat without saying grace is not a sin but to teach others that it is mandatory is a sin.



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