Mealtime prayers are essential conversations with God. Paul tells us to: “Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Poverty and starvation are an everyday reality for some, while others of us quench their thirst and put hunger at bay at our leisure. No matter which side of the pendulum we find ourselves on, praying God’s will over our lives and our meals is important. “… for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18b NLT)
Praying God’s blessing over our meals is a simple way to make a big difference on the daily alignment of our hearts. Use dinner time and all other times of eating to recall God’s goodness in your life. It helps us remember that our blessings come from our Creator… who deserves credit for all.
Here are 10 prayers that will fit any mealtime situation, from formal family dinners, to meals on the go at the neighborhood drive-thru:
- 1 1. A Prayer That This Food May Fuel Us to Do Your Work
- 2 2. A Prayer in Remembrance of the Hungry
- 3 3. A Prayer of Confession
- 4 4. A Prayer for Family Mealtime
- 5 5. A Prayer for Mealtime Fellowship
- 6 6. A Prayer for When Someone is Missed at the Table
- 7 7. A Prayer for Dining Out
- 8 8. A Prayer in Remembrance of the Last Supper
- 9 9. A Prayer for When Food is Scarce
- 10 10. A Prayer for the Drive-Thru
- 11 Community Q&A
- 12 Tips
- 13 Article SummaryX
- 14 Norwegian Grace Lyrics
- 15 Words to Norwegian Grace in English
- 16 How to Sing the Norwegian Table Prayer
1. A Prayer That This Food May Fuel Us to Do Your Work
Father, Praise You for the nourishment the You provide. Thank You for meeting our physical needs of hunger and thirst. Forgive us for taking that simple joy for granted, and bless this food to fuel our bodies forward into Your will for our lives. We pray that we will be energized and be able to work for the glory of Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
2. A Prayer in Remembrance of the Hungry
Father, You are mighty and strong to sustain our bodies. Thank You for the meal we are about to enjoy. Forgive us for forgetting how many pray for food to relieve their starvation. Bless and relieve the starvation of those who hunger, Lord, and inspire our hearts to seek out ways that we can help from our abundance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
3. A Prayer of Confession
Father, This meal is the work of Your hands. You have provided for me, again, and I am grateful. I confess my tendency to forget to ask Your blessing upon my life, through the comforts that You have given me to enjoy. So many people lack these daily comforts and it is selfish of me to forget about them in their need. Show me how to make the most of Your blessing in my life, for everything I have is a gift from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
4. A Prayer for Family Mealtime
Father, We have gathered to share a meal in Your honor. Thank You for putting us together as family, and thank You for this food. Bless it to our bodies, Lord. We thank you for all of the gifts you’ve given to those around this table. Help each member of our family use these gifts to your glory. Guide our mealtime conversations and steer our hearts to Your purpose for our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
5. A Prayer for Mealtime Fellowship
Father, Praise You for friendship and family! Thank You for bringing us together today to share a meal. The people in our lives bring us such joy, and we are grateful for time spent in fellowship together. Help us use this time to bond closer as a group, and learn to love each other more. Bless our appetites, both physical and spiritual, to honor You in all we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
6. A Prayer for When Someone is Missed at the Table
Father, We are coping with an empty seat at our table. Be with the one we are without, today, and help us to trust in Your timing, purpose, and great love for us all. As we miss ____________ today, we pray Your blessing over him/her/them, and us, and the space in between now and when we see them next. Until then, may this food bless our bodies, and give us strength to endure the day ahead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
7. A Prayer for Dining Out
Father, Bless this establishment and employees as they prepare and serve our food. Thank You for the opportunity to have our meal brought to us, and the ability to relax and enjoy this time with one another. We understand our privilege to be here, and we pray to be a blessing to those we encounter in this place. Bless our conversation, and may we honor You in all we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
8. A Prayer in Remembrance of the Last Supper
Father, As we sit here today preparing to eat this food, we remember Your Son. How He came here as a human being, and ate with His family and friends just like we do. Thank You for the gift of Jesus, and that we can look to Him knowing He understands our hunger. Bless us, Lord Jesus, and stir our hearts to remember You in all we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
9. A Prayer for When Food is Scarce
Father, We come to You hungry, today. It’s hard to understand why we don’t have enough to eat, but we come to You for strength, knowing that You are our provider. Help us to trust that You will sustain us through times of abundance and times of scarcity. Bless us and help us get back up on our feet again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
10. A Prayer for the Drive-Thru
Father, Thank You for the drive-thru, that saves our time on busy days. We pray for those who prepared our food, and we ask that we would be a blessing to them during our brief encounter today. We remember that they are your children, and that they should be treated with kindness and respect, so that they will be able to see You in our actions. Bless this food to our bodies and keep us safe on the road today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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A month ago, James and Ashley asked if I would offer the grace before the meal at their wedding reception. Of course, I said yes right away. While I’ve officiated at a lot of weddings, I’ve had fewer opportunities to offer a table grace, and I felt honoured by their request. Here is the introduction and prayer I offered, followed by a few helpful tips and other sample prayers in case you ever have the privilege of saying grace for a wedding reception.
The Introduction and Prayer
It’s a joy for me to know James and Ashley as uniquely gifted individuals and as a wonderful couple. They are talented and kind, and you know, they’re so organized that not only did they ask me weeks ago for this prayer, but last night James was Facebooking me, “Just writing to remind you about the grace before dinner tomorrow!”
As if I could forget such a privilege of offering a prayer before the first meal that they share together as husband and wife!
So as we pray for this meal and wedding celebration, let’s also pray for James and Ashley and their future together. I’m excited at what God will do in their lives.
O God, the great Creator of this beautiful setting and all that is,
the Lord of life and love,
we give you thanks for all of your goodness:
~ for the abundance of food this evening
~ the abundance of family and friends,
~ the abundance of laughter and love.
We pray that this meal might be a time to nourish our bodies
and nourish strong relationships.
We pray for James and Ashley that the love they share today would flourish and grow.
May they continue in your joy and strength.
May they bless their families as they have been blessed by them.
And may all of us who participate in this celebration,
carry your joy and love with us as we move forward.
For you are the Source and Ground of all being. Amen.
A few helpful tips:
Start early. Don’t wait until you’re driving to the wedding, or having to madly scribble down some notes while hiding in the washroom between the ceremony and the reception. Jot down your thoughts a week or two before the wedding so you can be well prepared.
Write it out. Speaking off the cuff is great if you can pull it off, but for a smooth delivery so people can focus on your words and not get distracted by the uhs and ums, write out what you want to say.
Say it out loud. Practice it enough so you know it, but not so much that you squeeze the life out of it.
Give your prayer an introduction. Share briefly how you know the couple or what you appreciate about them. Include a short anecdote. Be funny if you can–but think gentle humour instead of embarrassing story.
Keep your focus on the bride and groom. Remember the occasion isn’t about you or your marriage. You might have the microphone for a few moments, but use it to draw attention to the happy couple, not yourself.
Really pray. The prayer before the wedding meal isn’t for show. It’s a real opportunity to pray for the meal, for the couple, and for all those present. Think sincerely, what do you want to pray for the couple? What do you want to pray for the family and friends who have gathered?
Make it a keepsake. For an added touch, print a copy of your prayer and tuck it into your wedding card for the couple.
These are a few selected excerpts of prayers before the wedding meal. Click through for the rest of the prayer and more samples.
Lord God, Creator of the universe, Father of us all,
we have gathered here around this dinner table to celebrate the love and commitment
that have united (bride’s name) and (groom’s name), in a wonderful bond of marriage. – Dinner Prayer At Wedding Reception
We thank You for giving Your Holy blessing today upon their marriage, and ask that You continue to bless them with Your love and mercy throughout their lives together. Let this be the first of many loving meals shared together with their family and friends, and blessed by Your amazing grace. – Wedding Meal Prayer by Holly Parmer
We have come from many places, many backgrounds, many beliefs, but and have drawn us together to share this meal together, their first meal as a married couple. We are grateful for love which seeks us and finds us. We are grateful for this meal. – Wedding Prayers for the Meal
Lord, behold our family here assembled. We thank you for this place in which we dwell, for the love that unites us, for the peace accorded us this day, for the hope with which we expect the morrow, for the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies that make our lives delightful; for our friends in all parts of the earth. . . . – The Wedding Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson
Father we thank you for the food that we are about to partake. We ask you to take your place at our tables and be our special guest. As this food nourishes our body and mind, let your Spirit feed our souls. – Scribbles of an Event Planner
May we never forget those who . . . are in need and may our eyes and our hearts be alert and our hands be open to give from the abundance you have given us. As we break bread together, we remember your sacrifice and know that you are among us. – Prayer Before Dinner
We thank You for providing for us, we ask that You bless this food, and bless those who have worked to prepare it. Thank You for being in our midst, for allowing us to enjoy good fellowship, and for being the perfect example of love. Just as this meal nourishes us and makes us healthy, we ask that You will give this couple a long and healthy life together. – Wedding Prayers and Blessings
Writing/Reflection Prompt: Imagine you’ve been asked to offer a prayer before a wedding dinner, and try writing one of your own. Or if you’ve already written a prayer, consider sharing it in the comments below. I’d love to see what you come up with!
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Offering Personal Thanks Reciting a Formal Prayer Blessing in Other Ways Article Summary Questions & Answers Related Articles References
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Saying a simple prayer before a meal can be an excellent way to center yourself and appreciate your blessings, whether you’re alone or in a large group. Saying grace doesn’t need to be an elaborate recitation, though it may be appropriate for different settings at different tables. You can learn personal devotions and formal prayers for a variety of different cultures, religions, and beliefs. See Step 1 for more information.
Method 1 Offering Personal Thanks
- Say a simple thanks for the meal to the people present.
If you’re called upon to say grace at a family gathering or holiday meal, it can be an intimidating experience. But like a toast at a wedding or any public speech, there’s no one “right” way to offer thanks, though there are several common denominational prayers for different faiths, discussed in the following method. The most important thing to remember in the moment is to speak from the heart, as sincerely and honestly as possible, and offer appreciation and thanks to whatever higher power you choose.
- Example: Bless this food and the people who prepared it. Many thanks for the meal and the company.
- Consider the occasion.
If you’re saying grace for a holiday meal, a family gathering, or an informal dinner, you can temper your prayer to the occasion. Even saying thanks for the changing of seasons can be an appropriate call for grace.
- Example: I’m blessed to be able to spend the holidays here with all of you. Let us appreciate this meal in fellowship and celebration.
- Example: It’s such a blessing to be able to come together and celebrate the life of Aunt Jan in this wonderful group of people. Many thanks for the meal and the fellowship.
- Example: It’s such a pleasure to spend a warm summer evening on the porch with all of you and this wonderful food. Let’s all offer thanks for the bounty we’ve received.
- Use a quick personal anecdote.
Depending on the group and the occasion, it can be appropriate to offer a brief moment of story to act as a blessing. When spend with close family or close friends, on a birthday or other personal holiday, this is a nice touch. It’s also common to offer a quick personal blessing for each person present, if in a small group.
- Example: I’ve always looked up to Aunt Jan as a personal inspiration and hero for her kind dedication to service and cheerful outlook on life. I’ll always cherish the hours we spent together in her garden. I count myself blessed to have someone in my life as inspiring as her, and to be able to gather here today and celebrate her life with you all.
- Example: What a blessing to come together today for this wonderful meal at the end of the week. Our thoughts are with Jason as his completes another tough week of school, and with Karen during the first days of a new job, and with all our family who can’t be here tonight. May they be blessed and filled with happiness.
- Keep it brief.
Saying grace is a time for everyone at the table to take hands or sit quietly in contemplation, reflecting on their blessings and privileges before taking a meal. It should neither be a sermon nor a joke. A simple and quick blessing is best, regardless of the devotion and the hunger of the people present. Don’t rush through it, but keep it to a few brief sincere sentences, and end it with “amen” or the closing of your choice. A call to grace might look something like this:
- All present take hands, or bow their heads quietly.
- A quick moment or two of silence before beginning, enough for a centering breath.
- The blessing or prayer, a few sentences at most.
- The closing. “Amen,” a Hebrew word meaning “It is so” is a common closing for Christian and personal or secular prayers alike.
Method 2 Reciting a Formal Prayer
- Address and thank God for the food and fellowship at a Christian table.
To say grace in a Christian setting, there are several short common prayers frequently used, though no one is universal or more appropriate than another. In general, European and Catholic denominations will address meal-time prayers to God or “The Lord,” while Evangelical Christians and other denominations that emphasize a personal relationship with Christ will address prayers to Jesus. There’s no hard or fast rule about this, though, so speak from the heart.
- Example: Bless this food to our bodies, Lord, and let us hold you in our hearts. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
- Example: Bless us, oh Lord, and these your gifts which we are about to receive from your bounty. Through Christ our Lord we pray, Amen.
- Pray before and after the meal at a Muslim table.
For practitioners of Islam, it’s common practice to recite a brief prayer of grace before the meal and after the meal. It’s especially important to be quiet and do nothing else during the prayer but address Allah.
- Before the meal: Bismillahi wa ‘ala baraka-tillah. (In Allah’s name and upon the blessings granted by Allah, we eat.)
- After the meal: Alham do lillah hilla-thee At Amana wa saquana waja ‘alana minal Muslimeen. (All praise to Allah who gave us food and drink and who made us Muslims.)
- Perform birkat hamazon after a meal at a Jewish table.
There are many separate blessings for particular items of food such a fish, meat, and vegetables, though a Jewish meal is said to be incomplete if it does not include bread. Birkat hamazon, or the “Grace after Meals,” is typically recited to one’s self after a meal including bread or matzoh is finished, and is printed in most Hebrew prayer books, to be sung aloud at formal gatherings. It’s common to recite in either full or annotated form, if pressed for time. In a formal setting, the leader will start the prayer and the group will respond.
It’s a semi-complicated text, made up of four distinct blessings:
- The meal: Baruch Eloheinu she-achalnu mishelo uv’tuvo chayinu. Baruch hu uvaruch sh’mo. (Praised be our God, of whose abundance we have eaten, and by whose goodness we live. Praised be the Eternal God.)
- The land: Kakatuv, v’achalta v’savata, uveirachta et Adonai Elohecha al haaretz hatovah asher natan lach. Baruch atah Adonai, al haaretz v’al hamazon. (As it is written: When you have eaten and are satisfied, give praise to your God who has given you this good earth. We praise You, O God, for the earth and for its sustenance.)
- Jerusalem: Uv’neih Y’rushalayim ir hakodesh bimheirah v’yameinu. Baruch atah Adonai, boneh v’rachamav Y’rushalayim. Amen. (Let Jerusalem, the holy city, be renewed in our time. We praise You, Adonai, in compassion You rebuild Jerusalem. Amen.)
- God: HaRachaman, hu yimloch aleinu l’olam va-ed. HaRachaman, hu yitbarach bashamayim uvaaretz. HaRachaman, hu yishlach b’rachah m’rubah babayit hazeh, v’al shulchan zeh she-achalnu alav. HaRachaman, hu yishlach lanu et Eliyahu HaNavi, zachur latov, vivaser lanu b’sorot tovot, y’shuot v’nechamot. (Merciful One, be our God forever. Merciful One, heaven and earth alike are blessed by Your presence. Merciful One, bless this house, this table at which we have eaten. Merciful One, send us tidings of Elijah, glimpses of good to come, redemption and consolation.)
- Recite a personal mantra, a verse from the Vedas, or from the Mahabharata to sanctify a Hindu meal.
Hindu traditions are largely regional and vary widely, and it would be impossible to distill into a single traditional prayer for mealtime. Personal mantras are common before-meal prayers, as well as recitations from the Bhagavad Gita (specifically the 4th chapter). A typical example might look something like this:
- Brahmārpaṇam brahma havir (Brahman is the oblation)
- Brahmāgnau brahmanāhutam (Brahman is what constitutes the offerings)
- Brahmaiva tena gantavyam (by Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman)
- Brahma karma samādhinā. (Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always sees Brahman in all actions.)
Hold hands in silence. At many different tables, including Buddhist, Quaker, and secular humanist traditions, a brief period of silence before meals is used to center the self, quiet the mind, and let in the light. To pray quietly both as a group and as individuals, take hands and bow your heads in silence, and still your thoughts. After a few moments, squeeze hands as a group to signal the end of the prayer, and commence the meal.
Method 3 Blessing in Other Ways
- Go with a cafeteria prayer.
Depending on the occasion, a more information or humorous prayer might be just as appropriate as a solemn one. If you’re sitting down informally but still want to throw up a thanks, go with a classic rhyming prayer of school cafeterias and summer camps:
- Example: Good food, good meat, good God, let’s eat.
- Example: Lord, we know without a doubt, you’ll bless this food as we pig out.
- Example: Bless this food before us set, which needs all the help that it can get.
- Offer a drunkard’s toast.
If you’ve just seated yourself at a table with a crew that likes to imbibe, celebrate the spirits with this classic:
- Example: May your glass be ever full, may the roof over your head be always strong, and may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.
- Example: When I dream of Heaven, I dream of the past / Surrounded by good friends raising a glass.
- Quote Emerson.
Eating at an English professor’s house? Say grace by quoting everyone’s favorite Transcendentalist. His poem “Grace” reads:
- For each new morning with its light, / For rest and shelter of the night, / For health and food, for love and friends, / For everything Thy goodness sends, / We offer thanks. Amen.
- Learn the American Sign Language (ASL) blessing.
Thanks and meals are directly linked in ASL, whose sign for “thanks” involves moving the hand from the mouth forward, displaying a flat palm. This is traditionally used before a meal in place of a blessing, and as an invitation of both thanks and eating.
- Use aphorisms from around the world.
Learning simple blessings from cultures not your own can be an interesting way of offering perspective and gravity to the meal. Some examples:
- Japanese: itadakimasu (I am receiving)
- Latin American: To those who have hunger, give bread. To those who have bread, give hunger for justice.
- Ghanaian: Earth, when I am about to die I will lean on you. While I am alive, I will depend on you.
- Southeast Asia: This food is the gift of the whole universe. May we be worthy to receive it. May the energy in this food give us the strength to transform our unwholesome qualities into wholesome qualities.
Add New Question
Does one say grace before eating a snack, or is it just for meal time?
Saying grace is just a thankful prayer for food, which you say before eating. You can say grace before eating a snack if you like, but you don’t have to. Meal time is more formal.
Do I sing or say a grace?
You can sing if you like, but people usually say grace. Saying grace is like praying, mainly for food.
Does food come before grace?
No, people who say grace do so before the meal.
Which comes first: the prayer or the toast?
The prayer always come first because you want to thank God.
I’m at a Christian table, and I’m not Christian, how should I react when they offer their hand to say grace?
Politely decline or accept them. You do not have to believe what they’re saying. If you wish to feel included or you would just like to be nice, then join in. If you do not wish to, that is okay too.
When sitting at a family table who is supposed to say Grace? Man or woman? I learned that the man goes to God, the woman goes to the man, the children to the woman.
Often, this depends on one’s culture. In many traditional homes/gatherings, the head of the household is deemed the appropriate person to say the grace, and this grace is seen as all-inclusive for the others gathered at the table. However, a “Grace” is generally a prayer of thanks, and a woman can be thankful without a man, and children can be thankful without their mother. So, unless one’s culture frowns on the practice of a woman or child giving the grace, it is perfectly fine for them to do so. Another common occurrence is for a family/group to say grace together. This actively involves the whole gathering in giving their thanks.
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- Grace is about gratitude towards God for providing food.
- If you are dining with people who follow a different faith, it would be polite to slightly alter your prayer by leaving out Christ’s name and thanking God in general (addressing Him with “Lord”, “Father”, or “Our God” should be appropriate in all faiths).
- Blessing the food may provide extra nourishment or multiplication.
To say grace at a family meal, you can simply say thanks for the meal and to those who prepared it. Alternatively, if you’re saying grace for a holiday meal, try to match your prayer to the occasion, like “I’m blessed to spend the holidays here with you all. Let us appreciate this meal in fellowship.” No matter what you decide to say, try to keep it brief and from the heart. Finally, you may want to close with “Amen,” which is common for Christian and secular prayers and a perfect way to signal to others that you’re done. To learn how to recite a formal prayer for a Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu table, keep reading!
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Español: bendecir los alimentos, Português: Dar Graças, Русский: произносить молитву благодарности, Italiano: Pregare Prima di Mangiare, Deutsch: Dank sagen, Français: réciter le bénédicité, 中文: 谢饭祷告, Bahasa Indonesia: Mengucapkan Doa Syukur
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The Norwegian table prayer has a long history in the Norwegian home. When the family gathers around the table, it is said before each meal. It can be spoken or sung.
It also has a heartfelt place in Norwegian gatherings around the world. At Norwegian clubs, dinners, and special events you will find it said with reverence of history and heritage.
Norwegian Grace Lyrics
I Jesu navn går vi til bords
Og spiser, drikker på ditt ord
Deg, Gud, til ære, oss til gavn
Så får vi mat i Jesu navn.
Words to Norwegian Grace in English
You may see a few different English translations for the Norwegian table prayer. Translators vary between being strictly literal or trying to put their own poetic spin on the phrasing. They all mean the same thing.
In Jesus’ name to the table we go
To eat and drink according to his word.
To God the honor, us the gain,
So we have food in Jesus’ name.
How to Sing the Norwegian Table Prayer
If you just want to say grace before you eat you don’t have to sing, but many people do. Either way you will need to understand how the words actually sound, since the text is (literally) foreign to our ears.
Learning the Norwegian table prayer can be difficult — but only in that many videos rush through it out of habit, have equipment challenges, or are otherwise hard to hear.
You will find this to be easy!
I hope that the Norwegian table prayer will grace your table in the days and years to come. When you’ve perfected this one, here is another to try: Be Present At Our Table, Lord.
Please comment on your memories of the Norwegian dinner prayer around the table with your family, friends, or club!