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 The Purpose of the Prayer
- 12 Who is Listening?
- 13 Prepare in Advance
- 14 Practice
- 15 Things to Avoid
- 16 A Sample Christian Prayer
- 17 A Sample Secular 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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This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can’t find the words to pray.
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by Holly Parmer (Ste. Genevieve, MO)
God our Father, & Lord of all Creation:
We gather here now to celebrate the love and commitment of (bride) & (groom), as they share their first meal together as husband and wife.
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.
And with (bride) & (groom), as we are their family, friends, & loved ones gathered here in Your presence,
we ask for Your Holy blessing upon this meal as together we say:
Bless us, oh Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty; through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Return to Wedding Prayers and Blessings
It was a lovely wedding. The bride was radiant, the groom was handsome, and the attendants were obviously thrilled to support their friends. Now it’s time for the reception, and the wedding couple has honored you with the request that you offer the prayer before the meal — that you say grace. There were prayers as part of the wedding service, but the prayer you have been asked to give is the prayer at the first meal the bride and groom are sharing as a married couple.
The Purpose of the Prayer
Prayers can be categorized as praise (worship of God), thanksgiving, intercession (asking for something specific) and confession. While there may be elements of praise, intercession and confession in the prayer at a meal, it is usually placed in the thanksgiving category. This is true whether the meal is an informal family dinner around the kitchen table or a formal wedding reception. At a wedding, the purpose of the prayer is primarily to thank God for the food and for those who prepared it. A related but secondary purpose is to thank God for the newly married couple and the community of friends and family who have gathered to support them.
Who is Listening?
Unlike leading grace at a family dinner, praying at a wedding reception is a public event, involving people you may not know. The bride and groom will have invited an assortment of people — young and old family members, friends, coworkers, business associates and former classmates. This varied group likely are not all members of the same faith tradition. They likely do not share the same values and beliefs. Some may not even believe in God.
Your prayer should rise out of your own faith tradition, but you should avoid triumphalism — the assumption that everyone does or should believe what you do. If it is a multicultural and multi-religious group, your prayer can acknowledge that.
Prepare in Advance
Compose the prayer in advance to be sure that you have included everything you want to. If possible, memorize it. You can keep the written version with you when you lead the prayer, but if you have memorized it, it will flow better and sound more natural.
If you are not accustomed to leading public worship, practice the prayer aloud in a large space, preferably the reception hall itself. Find out if you will have the use of a microphone, and if not practice pitching your voice so it will carry without shouting. Get someone to stand at the back of the hall and tell you whether they can hear you clearly. Be aware that when a room is filled with people, your voice will not carry as well as in an empty hall.
Things to Avoid
If you did not preside at the wedding, you may be tempted to cover everything you want to say to and about the couple. If it was a church wedding, remember that a wedding homily has already been preached and that prayers for the couple’s married life have already been offered.
Do not evangelize. You have a “captive audience,” but this is not a license to hold forth about your faith, your view of marriage, your concern about the high divorce rate or any other topic.
Keep your focus on giving thanks for the meal, and keep the prayer brief — no more than two minutes.
A Sample Christian Prayer
The following is a sample of a prayer that could be offered from a Christian faith tradition at a reception with multi-faith guests.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love, which we have seen today reflected in and ‘s eyes. 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. We pray your blessing upon those who prepared it and those who will serve it. We ask that you bless Jane and John and us as we celebrate tonight. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
A Sample Secular Prayer
Ground and source of all life, we stop and recall with gratitude the gift of life. We are grateful for the love of and parents, who raised them from childhood with care and concern, bringing them to this day. We are grateful for the example of and love in their new commitment to one another. We express our gratitude to those who grew and harvested the food we will share today, those who prepared it and those who will serve it. We are grateful also to the wind and the rain, the sun and the earth, who provide not only this meal but all of our life on this planet. Let us take a moment of silence now in gratitude for life. Amen.