Question: "Why do we pray before eating meals?"
Answer: Christians frequently pray before meals, giving thanks to God for the food we are about to eat. Pre-meal prayers can be a simple “thank you” to God for the meal or lengthier prayers of thanksgiving for all of His provisions in our lives. In praying before meals, we are following the example of the Lord Jesus, whose prayers on several occasions are our model.
In the two instances where Jesus miraculously fed multitudes of people with a few loaves and fish, He “gave thanks” (Matthew 14:19-21; 15:34-36). In the first instance, He fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five loaves of bread and two fish. In the second, He fed over 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fish. At the Last Supper, Jesus again set the example of thanksgiving. When He passed the cup and the bread to His disciples, telling them to eat and drink these elements which were symbols of His body and blood, He gave thanks. When He appeared to the two men on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection, He stopped briefly to eat with them, and “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them” (Luke 24:30).
The apostle Paul continued this example of praying before eating, as recorded in Acts 27. In this instance, Paul was on a ship with 276 other people when a hurricane battered the ship. After fourteen days of not eating, Paul exhorted the sailors and other passengers to eat something in order to survive. He “took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all” (Acts 27:35). Even in spite of the danger and terrible circumstances, Paul paused to give thanks to God before the meal.
When we thank God for providing our daily bread, we are acknowledging that all things come from Him (Ephesians 5:20; Romans 11:36). He is the source of everything we have, and praying before meals as a habit helps to remind us of that truth. Praying before we eat with a thankful heart brings glory to God and centers our minds on His great love for His children and the blessings He bestows on those who belong to Him.