Spontaneous Meal Prayer: A How-To Guide
The day was beautiful, everyone was smiling, and my sister and her new husband were simply beaming. The wedding ceremony had been emotional and moving and now it was time to have the introduction of the wedding party and newly married couple. And then, we were going to stuff our faces full of food.
As I waited in line to be introduced, my mind turned to thoughts about the meal I was soon to eat. I was interrupted by a tugging at my sleeve.
“Um, Joel, I know I forgot to ask you this earlier, but could you lead meal prayer?”
Literally five minutes before dinner was about to start, I had been asked to lead a meal prayer in front of 200 of our closest friends and family. Well, her closest friends and family. And probably some people who just showed up randomly.
I should have just said no. I could have panicked. But I was calm, cool, and collected. Why, you ask? Because I knew the situation and the things to say that can create a spontaneous meal prayer that will make people think you are about ten times holier than you actually are and that you spent hours writing it out to perfection. Nothing screams “living saint” like a home-run meal prayer. And today I want to share my secrets with you.
There are four main meal prayer situations you can find yourself in. Select your situation below, and take note of the key “things to say” and “things not to say.” Any mix of these ideas with proper insertion of nouns, verbs, adjectives and a judicious use of the word “just” will make for a killer meal prayer that will have people saying, “Please sir or madam, if you only say the word my food shall be blessed.”
1. Small Family Meal:
Things to Say: happiness, community, loving, thankfulness, Jesus. In this situation, it’s always good to ask for blessings on specific family members who prepared the meal and will clean the dishes. This also indicates in a loving way that, because you were asked to lead the meal prayer, you will not be doing dishes.
Things To Avoid: giving thanks that your mother-in-law didn’t do the cooking, offering a joke about that time you all got food poisoning from bad chicken, passive-aggressively asking God to bless family members you are fighting with, calling the people you are eating with “heathens,” and excessively using the word “just.”
2: Family Reunion:
Things to Say: Remembering relatives who have passed away, asking God to bless the entire family, praying in thankfulness for Grandma’s pie that she so graciously spent hours baking (but you and everyone else knows that she bought at Wal-Mart).
Things to Avoid: Remembering the time a WWE match broke out over the last scoop of potato salad at the reunion of ’04, prayer gossiping about a relative who couldn’t make it because of “unexpected life circumstances,” praying in thanksgiving for Grandma’s Wal-Mart pie.
Things to Say: Mention the word “love” at least 3 times, forever, lifetime of happiness, express thankfulness for bride and groom, ask God to bless their marriage with “abundance.”
Things not to Say: “divorce,” “unhappiness,” “last-form-of-legal-slavery,” “Kate Plus 8,” and “weight gain” should be avoided at all costs, thanking God for saving the groom’s life the night of the bachelor party, expressing the fact that the bride still owes you $50.
Things to Say: Resurrection, forgiveness, and eternal life all bode well in this situation. Go with something sincere and from your heart.” If not, consider some poetry or perhaps a haiku. Unless of course, the person hated poetry – then maybe avoid that one.
Things not to Say: Black infinite abyss, eternal darkness, “he led a less than admirable life, but hey, only God can judge,” and “nougat.” Nougat, while generally acceptable in all other prayers, really doesn’t fit the bill here.
These four formulas can certainly be mixed and matched. At a dinner with the in-laws? Consider combining small family meal with funeral. Have a 500 person family wedding? Family Reunion and wedding work will be your ticket. The possibilities are endless, but one thing is for certain: The next time someone asks you to pray five minutes before dinner at any event, you can respond confidently, “Definitely can, because I am much holier than you.” And really, that’s what it’s all about.
Go get ‘em kid.