Mealtime Prayer Changes Our Life

When I think about major influences in my family’s faith life, I have to put mealtime prayer at the top of the list.  The rhythm of praying together two or three times a day is huge.  Even today, with none of my children living at home, my husband and I use this time to pray for each one of them by name – and probably some of you too!

We started with the rote, childhood prayer “Come Lord Jesus” which made mealtime prayer in to a ritual we could take turns leading or pray together.  At one point, life got complicated and we moved to “heart prayers” where we voiced our fears, concerns and hopes.  I honestly don’t think we could have made the shift to heart prayers so easily without the ritual of Come Lord Jesus.  Somehow the weirdness of mealtime prayer easily turned into normal through the practice of a ritual.

I’ve been thinking – what would it take to start a real movement around meal time prayer?  I found a bunch of interesting table graces to get us thinking about this.  I would love to know how you handle prayer with your family. 

School starting is a great time to claim new traditions.  Why not start here?  If you already use ritual prayers, move to Heart Prayers, but if this is a new idea – give this some thought:

  • Prayer is a free gift we have been given.  We can share this gift with anyone who eats in our home, even our own children.
  • Avoid lunchroom or restaurant weirdness if you want by praying silently.  Or as one person shared, just look up and wink – God knows!
  • If we practice our faith through meal time prayer, we are essentially having mini-devotions throughout the day. 

So here are some of the prayers I found.  Some are remarkably moving and others make me smile.

What are you praying?


Come Lord Jesus
Be our guest
and let these gifts
to us be blessed


Bless us, Oh Lord
And these Thy gifts
which we are about to receive
From Thy bounty
Through Christ Our Lord


Thank you for the food we eat
Thank you for the friends we meet
Thank you for the sun above
Thank you God for your love
Thank you for the birds that sing
Thank you, God, for everything



Thank you for the earth so sweet
Thank you for the food we eat
Thank you for the birds that sing
Thank you God for everything


Give us grateful hearts, O Father, for all thy mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Source: 1928 Book of Common Prayer)

Contributed by Andrew Wright <>

Bless O Lord this food {these gifts} to our use and us to thy loving service; and keep us ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.

Contributed by Richard Konopka <>

Bless, O Lord, this food for thy use, and make us ever mindful of the wants and needs of others. Amen.

Contributed by Ed Bailey <>

Bless O Lord, this food to our use,
And us to thy loving service;
And make us ever mindful of the needs of others,
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Contributed by Alan K. Jackson <>

Bless this food to our use, and us to thy service, and make us ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.

For the bounty laid before us, may the Lord make us thankful, and ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.

Contributed by Ellen Rains Harris <Ellen.Rains.Harris@ROLLINS.EDU>

Here is a prayer we use for dinner. We have passed it down from generation to generation to our children.

For what we are about to receive, may the lord make us truly thankful. And may we always be mindful of the needs of others, for Jesus sake, Amen.

Contributed by Bill Morley, Ontario, Canada <>

My devout Presbyterian mother always says this blessing before a meal:

Dear Lord, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and us to thy service. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Contrubuted by Dorothy B. Burch <>

Thank you, Lord, for this food which is set before us. May we use it to nourish our bodies, and thee to nourish our souls. Make us ever more mindful of the needs of others, and the needs of our planet. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Contributed by Thomas H. Harbold <harbolth@CTRVAX.VANDERBILT.EDU>

Thank you for your website. It helped me to remember the prayer my father said before many of our meals. It is a variation of some of those already listed.

Bless this food to our use, and us to thy service. Fill our hearts with grateful praise.

Contributed by Clyde von Rosenberg <>

My mother was raised Roman Catholic; my father Methodist. Like many such “mixed” couples, they found a home in the Episcopal church as a bridge between the Catholics and Protestants. Since I was a child, I have noticed that whenever I break bread with Roman Catholic families, they say the same prayer that my family has always said (thanks to my mother’s Roman influence, no doubt).

Bless us, O Lord, for these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.

Contributed by Tim Chambers <>

Bless us, O Lord, for these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Help us to be mindful of all our blessings, and the needs of those who have less. Amen.

Contributed by Art Laurent <ALAURENT@NPR.ORG>

[As of 2005] My sons are now almost 12 and 14. When they were young, I introduced them to different prayers. As a matter of fact, collecting prayers to teach them was my key motivation for starting this project. They started with children’s prayers (God is great, God our Father, and Johnny Appleseed). They are now Boy Scouts and give thanks at least once every summer camp with the Philmont Grace. I taught them what I learned from my parents (bless us, O Lord), and it’s always a familiar comfort to pray that way together when our extended family gathers for a meal. However, after editing this collection for seven years, I have settled on this variation of a traditional Anglican prayer as my favorite. I encourage my sons also to pray spontaneously, but our family has made this our standard. Many complain that memorized prayers lose their meaning with repetition, but I experience a mystical, amplifying effect when all gathered around the table are praying in unison.

Dear Lord, thank you for this food.
Bless the hands that prepared it.
Bless it to our use and us to your service,
And make us ever mindful of the needs of others.
Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.

Contributed by Tim Chambers <>

These are my childhood memories of my schools’ graces.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above, ye heavenly Host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

All creatures that on earth do dwell
Sing, to the Lord, with cheerful voice.
Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell
Come ye before Him , and rejoice.

The Lord ye know is God, indeed,
Without our aid He did us make.
We are His flock, He doth us feed,
And, for His sheep He doth us take.


Contributed by Audrey G Schnell <>

At a Wedding

Heavenly Father, we ask you to bless this food and those who prepared it and those who will serve it. We also ask your blessing on [bride’s name] and [bridegroom’s name] who have come to you this day to unite themselves to you in love and sacrament, and upon their families. In Jesus’ love…. Amen.

Contributed by Don Muench <>

Peter Dunbar <>, vicar of Upper Nidderdale in North Yorkshire (UK), composed this prayer:

For good food and those who prepare it, for good friends with whom to share it, we thank you Lord. Amen.

At weddings he adds: and for the love which [bride’s name] and [bridegroom’s name] have for each other, we thank you ….

[Also from Rev. Dunbar:]

A Methodist friend of mine (Eileen from Summerbridge) gave me this one:

There once was a cock and a hen,
Who gave lunch to a goose in a pen.
“Good Lord” said the goose,
“Bless this food for our use
And us to thy service. Amen.”

The first part of this I wrote for my niece’s wedding. The blessing I found on the net.

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for the food we share tonight,
in celebration of [bride’s name] and [bridegroom’s name]‘s marriage
We thank you for the love, guidance and support of our parents, family and friends
We thank you for making this day so enjoyable, and bless those that have worked hard to
make this day a success for [bride’s name] and [bridegroom’s name]
Thank you Lord for the freedom we have in our lives and the beautiful country we enjoy it in
Heavenly Father, we ask this blessing for the newly married couple,


May their love be firm, and may their dream of life together be a river between two shores–
by day bathed in sunlight, and by night illuminated from within.
May the heron carry news of them to the heavens, and the salmon bring the sea’s blue grace.
May their twin thoughts spiral upward like leafy vines, like fiddle strings in the wind,
and be as noble as the Douglas fir.
May they never find themselves back to back without love pulling them around into each other’s arms. Amen.

(Adapted from a verse by James Bertolino)

Contributed by B J Murphy <>

Good Lord – Bless these sinners as they eat their dinners. Amen

For Bacon, Eggs and Buttered Toast,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost

Another that I have used at weddings is

For sumptuous food and tender roast,
For the invitation from our gracious host;
For [bride’s name] whom [bridegroom’s name] loves the most;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost Amen

Contributed by Revd Peter Holloway <> (Anglican Diocese of Bendigo – Australia)

Other Sources

For food in a world where many walk in hunger;
For faith in a world where many walk in fear;
For friends in a world where many walk alone;
We give you thanks, O Lord. Amen.

(Source: Huron Hunger Fund, Anglican Church of Canada)

Contributed by Bob Chandler, M.S.W. <>

Let us thank God for food when others are hungry; for drink when others are thirsty; for friends when others are lonely. Amen.

Source: a friend in Seattle

Contributed by David Calhoun <>

    All that we have,
    is all a gift.
    It comes, O God, from you;
    We thank you for it.

Contributed by Irv Cutter <>

Let us lift our eyes toward the sanctuary of heaven and bless the Lord. Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments and brought forth this food from the earth. (+)Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The first portion is the Jewish Berakah for meals. I use this form when there is nothing liturgically significant happening. I change “thy commandments” when appropriate to something like “sanctified us through the Advent of thy Son” or “this season of Lent” or “the preaching of St. Augustine”.

Contributed by Rebecca A. Maloy <maloyra@UCUNIX.SAN.UC.EDU>

Rebecca A. Maloy wrote, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments…”

To keep everyone on their toes, once in a while you could say, “who hast sanctified us with thy mitzvot…”


Contributed by Scott R. Knitter <knitter@MSUALUM.MSU.EDU>

The family of one of my sisters-in-law (Methodist, but Wesley was an Anglican) has one (the “Wesley Grace,” they call it, though whether or not it dates back to J.W. I don’t know) which is sung to the tune of “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”:

Be present at our table, Lord!
Be here and everywhere adored.
Your mercies bless, and grant that we
May feast in Paradise with Thee! Amen.

At least, I think I’m remembering the words correctly. This is usually sung holding hands around the table, followed by an extemporaneous prayer.

Contributed by Thomas H. Harbold <harbolth@CTRVAX.VANDERBILT.EDU>

James Elliott <>,Tallahassee, Florida, comments: “This is sung at our table to the tune of Tallis’ Canon, aka The Eighth Tune by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), number 25 in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 edition, and is also mentioned in Madeline L’Engle’s books (I cannot remember if it’s the Arm of the Starfish Series, or the Austin Family series or both!) as being sung at the table to this tune (which is where we got the idea, if I remember correctly!)”

The version I know reads in the third line “Thy creatures bless, and grant that we…” — Michael Bishop <>

The version John F. Burkhalter <> is familiar with is:

Be present at our table, Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
Thy mercies bless and grant that we
May strengthened for thy service be.

Versicle and Response (Ps 145:16-17):

V: The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord,
R: and you give them their food in due season.
V: You open wide your hand
R: and satisfy the needs of every living creature.
Gloria Patri (Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.)

Contributed by Andrew Wright <>

We use a common prayer but we generally add a specific prayer request which is relevant to what is happening at that time in our lives. For instance, from May 1994 until March of 1996, my sister was battling cancer so we would ask the Lord to heal and comfort her. After she went home to be with the Lord a custody battle forced us to give up her two children who had been living with us for two years. My youngest son, who often is the one who prays, was devastated. So he prays every day for their return and their happiness. I’ve rambled long enough; here’s the prayer.

Dear Lord, we thank you for this food, and we ask that you bless it and make it to nourish our bodies, and (please watch over Jon and Kristina).


Dear Lord, we thank you for this food, and we ask that you bless it and make it to nourish our bodies. Thank you for the time we have together, and bless the fellowship we share, and (please watch over Jon and Kristina).

I’ve found that the kids treat grace as an opportunity to talk about their concerns. It gives us all a chance to show how we can communicate with God.

Contributed by <Tom>


The eyes of all wait upon you, O God,
And you give them their food in due season.

You open wide your hand
and fill all things living with plenteousness.

Bless, O Lord, these gifts to our use and us in your service;
relieve the needs of those in want and give us thankful hearts;
for Christ’s sake. Amen.


Bless us, O Lord, who bless your holy name
and by this food, feed us for your holy service. Amen.


All your works praise you, O God,
And your faithful servants bless you.

They make known the glory of your kingdom
And speak of your power.

For these and all God’s gifts and graces,
let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.


Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits.

Blessed be God, eternal king,
for these and all his good gifts to us. Amen.

Source: Celebrating Common Prayer: The Pocket Version, p. 274, Copyright © Society of St Francis, 1994)

Contributed by Simon Kershaw <Simon.Kershaw@SMALLWORLD.CO.UK>

We were racing through half-heard formulae until my husband, who was conducting a seminar on the psalms, suddenly suggested that we work our way through the psalter in six verse bits read before each meal. This has worked out wonderfully, although perhaps people will object that it is not really grace. Still, it often–even usually–starts out a dinner table conversation on matters theological. That is especially wonderful, I think, for my thirteen year old, who gets to ask questions in a general conversation instead of in a self-conscious teaching-the-young context. She gets to see when we are puzzled, in addition to witnessing the things we feel sure about. As for the psalms not always being consistant with the theme of gratitude for gifts given, I take some comfort from the thought that they were, as I understand it, used as worship–some of our best conversations have arisen from the issue of how such angry, sad, bloodthirsty poems fit with a loving, giving God. As we try to answer that, we learn a lot about gratitude for all things.

Contributed by Grant Franks <GHFRANKS@SHADOW.STJOHNS-NM.EDU>

I thought I’d pass along the grace my family always used. I don’t know where it originated but we’ve said it before meals ever since I was a small boy. The grace we used seems more than likely a children’s prayer. Do with it what you will. (For what it’s worth, I’ve been an Episcopalian all my life.)

For all we eat, and all we wear,
For daily bread, and nightly care,
we thank thee heavenly Father. Amen.

Contributed by Kem White <>

A prayer passed through our family:

Our Dear Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this food. Feed our souls on the bread of life and help us to do our part in kind words and loving deeds. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Contributed by Kathy Batman <>

Blessed art Thou, Lord of all Creation. Through your goodness we have this gifts for our use, the fruit of your bounty and the work of human hands. As they become part of our substance may they give you honor and glory. Amen.

Contributed by Manuel Vazquez <>

Thank you for publishing this lovely collection of table graces, and please permit me to add another which was used in my family.

Gracious heavenly Father, accept our thanks for this food; pardon all our sins, and save us for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Contributed by Laurence K. Wells <>

This is a prayer my grandfather said before every meal.

Merciful Father pardon our sins and give us thankful hearts for these and all other blessings. Bless this food to our bodies and our bodies to your service. Amen.

Contributed by Chris Keister <>

I thought this was fairly standard. However I didn’t see it [in the previous edition].

Bless this food O Lord, and ourselves to Thy loving service; that we may always continue in Thy faith and fear to the honor and glory of Thy Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Contributed by Nathan Lahey <>

Our family does not use the same grace at each meal and in fact, I try to encourage the children to take turns giving thanks their own way. One way that we do this is with a “squeeze prayer.” Holding hands, each person prays, then squeezes the next hand when finished.

Contributed by Holly <> . (Also the first of many contributors of the next prayer.)

Come Lord Jesus be our guest, let this food to us be blessed. Amen.

Carole and Buddy Sokol <> commented: “Our family uses [this] prayer at meal time. My children are 4, 6, and 8 so this is short, sweet and gets the point across;” <> calls it a “favorite mealtime prayer;” and Marilyn Gardner <> notes it is her family’s “common prayer before meals (Lutheran, Missouri Synod).”

Jeff Culbreath <> added:

As former Lutherans and relatively new Anglicans, we occasionally use an old Lutheran table prayer that has been passed down through many generations:

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, and His mercy endures forever. Amen.

To the (standard) grace my family said, I later learned a second verse.

Father, thank you for meat and bread.
May all the world be clothed and fed.

Contributed by Stacy Schulze <>

I was involved in hispanic work a few years ago. Here is a hispanic Lutheran table prayer.

    Christ, bread of life,
    Come and bless this food. Amen

Contributed by James Harris <>

I thought I’d add my family’s grace — said before meals in my (Anglican) family since before my 70something father was born. I thought it was pretty standard, but didn’t see it in your listing.

For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen

Contributed by Pat Wong <>

I don’t know the origin of this, but it’s universal on the rather large Methodist side of my family.

Our Heavenly Father, kind and good,
we thank Thee for our daily food.
We thank Thee for Thy love and care.
Be with us Lord, and hear our prayer.

Contributed by David Hall <>

Lord Jesus be our holy guest,
our morning joy, our evening rest,
and with our daily bread impart,
your love and peace to every heart. Amen.

I have forgotten whence this has come, but everyone likes it when I use it.

Contributed by Christopher Heath <>

I learned this when I was very young, and sometimes still say it today.

We thank Thee, Heavenly Provider,
for every earthly good:
for life and health and family,
and for our daily food. Amen.

Contributed by A Watkins <>

Here is a prayer from my mom’s grandfather, who became a sincere Christian as he converted from Judaism before he married my great-grandmother. My mother remembers they lived in a grand old brick row-house. Our family has newspaper clippings of him singing Gospel songs as he drove streetcars on the cobbled streets of old Philadelphia. He was a member of the First Brethren Church of Philadelphia (the denomination was Grace Brethren).

Pop Pop’s Prayer

We thank thee Lord, For this our food,
For life and health and all things good.
May manna to our souls be given:
The bread of life sent down from heaven.
These favors we ask in Christ’s name. Amen.

Contributed by [name withheld by request]

This was a prayer my Grandmother taught me. She said it when she was just a little girl. She was raised Methodist, but later converted to Catholic, so I’m not sure which church to attribute it. She was born in 1899, so it was said in the early 1900’s.

Come Lord Jesus be our guest, and let thy gifts to us be blessed. Like manna in the desert given, the Bread of life, sent down from Heaven.

In order to keep some of the old tradition alive within my family. We say two prayers before meals. The tradition Catholic prayer and the one my grandmother taught me.

Contributed by KM Sidebottom <>

This is the grace spoken over meals of my Apostolic-Pentecostal family.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for this food that we are about to receive for the nourishment of our bodies. Please cleanse it from impurities, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Contributed by <>

My grandfather (a Methodist) said this prayer all his life and we did also as kids growing up:

Come Lord Jesus, be our guest,
May this food by thee be blest,
May our souls by thee be fed,
Ever on the living Bread.

Contributed by <>

This is one of the variations my grandfather used. He was a long time member of the Old German Baptist Church.

Most Holy, Righteous and everywhere present God,
our Father who art in Heaven,
we ask thy blessing upon this food.
Bless the hearts and hands that provide the same.
And when it is ours to pass from time to eternity,
own us and crown us heirs to Thy kingdom.
These favors and blessings we ask in the name of Christ,
our Great Redeemer. Amen.

Contributed by Steve Jones <>

I … would like to share the blessing my grandmother (she’s from Bermuda and Anglican) would say when she visited us during our childhood:

From thy hand cometh every good,
We thank thee for our daily food.
And with it Lord, thy blessing give,
And to thy glory may we live. Amen.

Contributed by Lisa Widowski <>

Lord God, Heavenly Father, bless us and these Thy Gifts which we receive through Thy bountiful Goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen

Contributed by Paul C. Gutz <>

Here are four more prayers our family used to say at the table when I was a child:

For these and all Thy gifts of love,
We give Thee thanks and praise.
Look down upon us from above,
And bless us all our days. Amen.

Morning: Noon: Evening:
For our restful sleep at night,
For the rain and sunshine bright,
For the love that Thou dost send,
For our homes and for each friend,
Heavenly Father, we thank Thee. Amen
For the day and all its pleasures,
Grateful thanks we render now.
May our lives pass on the blessings,
None can give to us, but Thou. Amen.
A parting hymn we sing,
Around Thy table, Lord.
Again our grateful tribute bring,
Our thanks to Thee accord. Amen.

Contributed by Larry Collister <>

There is a sort of table grace attributed to Oliver Cromwell:

Some have hunger, but no meat;
Some have meat, but no hunger;
I have both.
God be praised!

Contributed by Mel Johnson <>

I “composed” this meal time prayer a few years ago…

Father, thank you for allowing us to share this meal together.
Send your Spirit to bless these gifts which you give us to sustain our
We thank you for them, and for ALL you blessings,
in the name of you Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Contributed by Michael Sclafani <>

An old Boston brahmin prayer:

Some have food,
Some have none,
God bless the revolution!

Contributed by Rob Flynn <CN=Rob_Flynn/OU=CAM/>

This Grace is sung to the tune “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music”:

Bless our friends,
Bless our food,
Come, O Lord and sit with us.

May our talk
Glow with peace;
Come with your love to surround us.

Friendship and love
May they bloom and glow,
Bloom and glow forever.

Bless our friends,
Bless our food,
Bless all mankind forever.

Contributed by Alan Lilley <>

Scott A Deuel <> adds these variations:

I’m not sure how to communicate to you the tune to which this is sung, but it is the same for both prayers. They are taken from The Upper Room’s Walk To Emmaus handbook.

Blessing before meals:

Bless our friends, bless our food.
Come, O Lord, and sit with us.
May our talk glow with peace,
Bring your love to surround us.

Friendship and peace, may it bloom
And grow, bloom and grow forever.
Bless our friends, bless our food,
Bless our dear land forever.

Thanks After Meals:

Hear our thanks, Father God.
Thanks, O Son, for being with us.
Thanks for words giving peace.
Urging love strong, sincere.

Friendship and peace, may it bloom
And grow, bloom and grow forever.
Thanks for friends, thanks for food,
Thanks for freedom, dear Father.

My grandfather’s (1890-1992):

Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this food. Bless it to our strength and to thy glory.

Growing up:

Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and bless what thou provided hast. (Sometimes I like the archaic syntax better!)

Recently from my mom:

Around this happy table may no evil ever come,
but health and peace and happiness make up our daily sum.

Contributed by r <>

Lord we thank thee for guiding, blessing, and protecting us.
Bless this food to its intended use.

Contributed by Paul Goble <>


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s