Short graces for dinner

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. 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.

short graces for dinner

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 couple of weeks ago I began a weekly series called “Grace for Dinner.”  Each of these posts will include a recipe for a simple, delicious dinner food and a  prayer of blessing for you. My hope is to impart grace to you body and soul with these posts.

This will be a place to find recipes you can really use.  My hope is that you might read a recipe here on a Monday and have it for dinner on Tuesday!

short graces for dinner

If I were to share with you only my own recipes, we’d have a pretty short series, so I’ve asked some blogging friends to help.  First up is Vivienne from The V Spot.  If you don’t already know Viv, you’re in for a treat.

Vivienne is wife to a wonderful husband and mother of four amazing boys, all of whom bless her life greatly and keep her busy.  She playfully describes The V Spot in these words: “Rants, observations, and home decorating. . . from a woman with no time for a blog.”  Viv is fun and funny and sarcastic and smart–but she’s also kind and gracious.  She’s one of those bloggers whom I’ve not yet had the chance to meet in real life, yet I feel that I know her.  You may find yourself laughing or crying with her–or laughing so hard that you cry!  But you’ll feel right at home at The V Spot.

Now with a busy household that includes five boys of various ages, Vivienne knows a thing or two about practical dinners.  Today she’s going to share one of her favorite recipes with us.  Here’s Viv. . . .

I love fall for several reasons, but one of them is that I just feel more in the mood to cook in the once the temperatures start to drop. I also find that things seem to get a bit busier in the fall as well, especially with my kids’ schedules and activities, so hearty soups, stews and one pot meals just make life a bit easier.

I want to share one of our very favorites with you today:  Chicken Chili.

short graces for dinner

My kids actually say Yay! when I tell them that we’re having Chicken Chili for dinner.  I first had this at my friend Jen’s house several years ago.  Since then, I’ve revamped it, spiced it up and tailored it for our family.

I love this dish because it’s delicious in addition to being low-fat, high-protein and very economical.  But best of all?  I can make it ahead of time and it’s the perfect freezer meal on those busy days when I didn’t plan for dinner.

This recipe makes a ginormous amount of Chicken Chili, but keep in mind that I have 4 growing boys who are eating me out of house and home and love this meal.  If you have a smaller family, just halve the recipe.  (Or make the whole thing and freeze some.)

short graces for dinner

You will need:

  • Large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • 4 to 6 chicken pieces (I use thighs and leg quarters, skin removed)
  • 1 Tbsp of ground cumin
  • palm-full of dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp of salt
  • 2 cans each of: black beans, white beans, pinto beans, corn  (all drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (un-drained)
  • jar of salsa (I recommend chipotle)
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped into a paste (optional)
  • 1 bunch fresh (or frozen) cilantro, chopped (optional)

In a large stock pot bring water, chicken stock, onion, salt and garlic to a boil.  Add chicken pieces.  You can use chicken breast, but I like the darker meat for both flavor and price.

short graces for dinner

Boil chicken for 5 minutes or so, then reduce heat and let the chicken simmer for another 25 minutes.  Remove chicken with tongs and set aside.  

Drain and rinse the beans and corn.  Go ahead and do it all at once.  It’s faster and easier that way.

short graces for dinner

Toss the beans and corn into the pot, along with the oregano, cumin, and the chopped chipotle pepper.

Add the 2 cans of tomatoes, the cilantro, and the jar of salsa.  (We like spicy, so I add more like a jar and a half, but it’s totally up to you.)

Pull the chicken off the bones, shred and put back into the pot.  Let simmer another hour or so.  I use a diffuser under the pot to help evenly distribute the heat, and I actually let it sit overnight… we think it’s better the next day because the flavors are really able to marry.  The smokiness of the chipotles, the broth, the beans, it all works together for a yummy, hearty meal.

I even toss in extra things here and there.  For example, I added some leftover rice and roasted red bell pepper to this batch.  We top it with shredded cheese, sour cream and more fresh cilantro.  It is mmm, mmm good!

short graces for dinner

And yes, freezing it into smaller portions means the boys can grab some and heat it up when ever they want.

short graces for dinner

Yummy, healthy, hearty and comes in at about a dollar a serving.  Not bad, huh?  Enjoy!

* * * * * 

Thank you so much, Viv!  I’m going to make up a batch of this soon.  And now for all of us, this prayer:

Dear Lord, we thank you for every gift.  We praise you as the Giver of all good things, including the food to nourish our bodies and the minds and hearts to appreciate you.  Bless us as we eat, dear Lord.  Give us strength to serve one another with love.  Amen. Every blessing to you today!


I am in the most privileged position of being invited to a number of dinners, albeit to do ‘the grace’, and as a result have to endure some of the most awful graces before the meal commences. It seems to me that all too often we are subjected to the most awful doggerel and smug self-satisfied tosh masquerading as ‘the grace’.

The last few I have been present at were attempts at being funny coupled with the words of two or three humour-filled graces, which were made into one. This was followed by the person giving the grace looking around (ooh, aren’t I clever, witting or stupid?) for laughter, applause or some other sign of approval.

The problem is that being assigned ‘the grace’ is not an opportunity for the speaker to shine, but rather a privilege, and quite solemn duty, in that they are leading those gathered in communication with God (as He is perceived or otherwise)!

The last grace I had to endure consisted of an introduction to the evening (which the president had done at the greeting), followed by a cute rhyming ditty in honour of the evening, the speaker, and the evening followed by what I recognised as two humorous graces lumped together to make us all laugh even more. Having completed the task, the person ‘praying’ (I use the word advisedly) looked around for signs of approval, before sitting down. This wasn’t ‘Grace’ – it was someone being the cabaret!

Thing to remember when doing ‘the grace’: 1. This is not the opportunity to demonstrate your skills in the creation of rhyming doggerel,

2. It is not an opportunity to poke fun at colleagues or make ‘in’ comments about whatever it is that you and your mates find funny in your own little world outside of the dinner,

3. It is not an opportunity or perform some hideous kowtowing or other ingratiating homage to the guest of honour,

4. It is not an open mike session in the ‘puerile prune’ stand-up comedy club.

What ‘the grace’ is: 1. It is an opportunity for the person saying ‘Grace’ to lead those present into a place of thanks and reflection for the fare that is being placed before them,

2. It is an opportunity to give thanks for the fellowship about to be had, and for those with whom it will be had,

3. It is an opportunity, especially in a military or veterans setting, to remember those who are serving: A place to remember those who have served and to give thanks for service and commitment, and

4. At the right time, and in the right place, it is an opportunity to give people the space to remember those who would once have been at table with you but are no longer here. It’s a space for reflection – not eulogies. Do this wrong and you can destroy the whole evening!!

The grace can be delivered with humour and also be topical, but it in not the light entertainment before the meal, that is the place of the Jester, not the person saying grace.

Some graces are awful and need shooting (along with those who so enjoy reciting them?).

 An example of this probably being:

  “May we not be like porridge, cold and stodgy, but like Cornflakes, crisp and ready to serve! “ And of course there’s that wonderful grace so loved by Air Force types:

 “God of goodness, bless our food, keep us in a pleasant mood.   Bless the chef and all who serve us, and from indigestion, Lord, preserve us. Amen.” Or perhaps the classics (used often in so many places:) ):

“For well-filled plate and brimming cup, and freedom from the washing up.
  We thank you, Lord. Amen.”

“For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful!”

There are a few good sources of graces. It is helpful to remember that in a service setting, collects and other prayers are also useful and fitting, to this end I have listed below a few sources of graces, collects and prayers such that you should never need to descend into the “For what we are about to receive fall back. “

Air Force Chaplain’s GracesArmy Collects and other prayersNaval Graces I’d be more than happy to receive your best, and worst, examples of a dinner grace as those for whom this post is aimed could do with all the help they can get. I’m always happy to help people who need a grace and can’t find one – just add a comment or email me (St Francis’ link will lead you to me).

I’ve been asked to add a couple of less ‘full on graces’ for Christmas meals, so here they are:

Love brought Jesus to the stable and love brings us around this table,As we share Christmas meal, may each and everyone here feel,The Christmas presence that makes this, and God’s blessing, ours today. Amen.
We’re here to eat and we’re not messing as we share this Christmas blessing,

So let’s all drink and be merry not  worrying about our expanding belliesFor that is ours another day, so God bless and spare us all we pray! Amen. Enjoy the privilege – take the role seriously – bon appetit!


short graces for dinner

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