Women are usually the chief "food processors" and servers in their families. Food preparation was a high priority throughout my lifetime, not only for my family of a husband and four sons, but for the hospitality ministry among international students to which we were called by God. I've been expected to make things happen in the kitchen.
In the summit season of my life, cooking for large gatherings of family or a great deal of formal entertaining take a lesser place in my job description as a mom-grandma. The focus is rather on drumming up enough energy to cook for myself, select nourishing food, and avoid the pitfall of fast food and junk food. Going out for lunch with friends assumes more importance. I've put in the chronological time and earned the right for a senior discount. Besides, it saves cleanup, and I often bring back a doggie-bag for another meal.
Since our human bodies constantly need “our daily bread” to sustain ourselves with sufficient strength to carry on our responsibilities in any season of life, it isn't surprising that the Scriptures have a lot to say about food. It seems obvious that Jesus loved to eat. He always seemed to be going to dinner parties! Many of His parables revolved around food. He even invited himself to dinner at Zaccheus’ house.
I’ll bet that Jesus' Jewish Mama Mary was a good cook and so was His grandma Anna! He said of himself, “The Son of Man comes eating and drinking….” (Matthew 11:19) Many events in His life and His divine declarations took place in the context of food. Jesus declared that He is the Bread of Life. (John 6:35) The Eucharist is the sum and source of our spiritual food. We look forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Eternity. After His ascension to the Father, we have a glimpse in Acts 2:46 of how His apostles ate: “…they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God….” What a good model for us!
These days even promos in the media remind us that to have a happy family we should eat our meals together! So this is new? Past generations took that for granted and thrived. For Christians, to share food expresses fellowship, celebration and thanksgiving. What an incongruity that most of the world beyond our shores prays for enough food to survive, and we pray for God’s help to limit our food intake because we are overweight!
The following is not a prayer to use verbatim in our family before diving into the food served so abundantly on our tables—Cries may come forth, “The prayer is too long! The food is getting cold!”
I offer it instead as a thought-provoker for private meditation.
Dear Lord of all I am, including my mortal body which belongs to You, (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) I want to eat and drink to Your glory. (1 Cor.10:31) May every meal I prepare for myself or for my family be a truly spiritual event.
Heavenly Father, You declared that everything You created is good, (Genesis 1) including food, and nothing is to be rejected, if we receive it with gratitude as those who believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4:3-5) Thank You for providing the food which I prepare. Bless and sanctify it by Your word and by this prayer. I offer to Your Lordship my appetite, the good digestion of the food, and its nourishment for my body and for the health of my family. (Romans 12:1)
Scripture declares that Your will for me is to prosper and be in health, even as my soul prospers. (3 John 2) Help me to wisely keep my body, soul, and spirit in the best condition so that I can daily walk in health to please and serve You. (Ephesians 5:10) You said that man [and woman too!] does not live by bread alone, that the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteousness, peace, and joy. (Romans 14:17)
Teach me to watch and pray when I choose foods; show me how to eat only food that is nutritious and needful for me (Proverbs 30:8) lest I yield to the temptation of the flesh. You know, O Lord, that my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. (Mark 14:38) Nevertheless, I can do all things, even to control my food selection and portions, through You who promised to strengthen me. (Philippians 2:13) Help me eat only as much as I need for my body’s health. (Proverbs 25:16) In order to be a better witness for You, if I need to change my poor eating habits that "so easily beset me," (Hebrews 12:1) may I grow the Fruit of the Spirit in temperance and self-control. (Galatians 5:16, 22-25)
Whenever I eat, may it be with joy and gladness as a celebration because You, gracious Father, have given us richly all things to enjoy. (1 Timothy 6:17) Give me a merry heart so that I may have a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15)
Lord Jesus, You were known in the breaking of bread whereby You revealed Your real presence. (Luke 24:30, 31) When I come to Your Eucharistic Table, I receive Your Body and Blood indeed. You, in turn, promised to be at our daily table to eat with me and my family. (Revelation 3:20) I acknowledge and welcome Your presence and preeminence among us when we gather to eat together. (Proverbs 3:6) May our conversation be pleasant as a honeycomb, sweet to our souls, health to our bones, and pleasing to You. (Proverbs 16:24)
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. AMEN