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by Brian Jones

pray before meals

That’s how many days I estimate our family prayed together at the dinner table when I was a kid.

Calculating that number was surprisingly easy.

I took out Friday nights because that was pizza night. Everyone was responsible for praying his or her own prayer on the way to sacking dad as he walked through the door with the warm Massey’s Pizza box under his arm.

Then I removed Saturdays and Sundays from the tally. Weekends were survival of the fittest. We ate between games, trips to the grandparents, etc. We prayed for sure, but it wasn’t routine. So no prayers counted for those days.

That left Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. On those days we prayed before dinner every night, without fail. Except for the time when I was 14 and tried to back the car down the driveway to shoot basketball and accidentally ran over the mailbox. We didn’t pray that night. But that was it.

Usually dad prayed, but we’d all take turns.

That means that all together we prayed:

4 days a week
x 52 weeks a year
x 18 years
= 3744 days
– the day I killed the mailbox
= 3743 total times we prayed as a family before dinner

Some Christians don’t place a high value on praying before a meal. That’s a mistake. I believe that praying before dinnertime ranks second only behind going to church as the most important thing parents can do to impact their children spiritually.

5 Things That Happen When You Pray Before Meals As A Family

1. Praying Before Meals Gives Parents The Chance To Model That God Is Important.

In his book Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller wrote, “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself.” I agree. For 3,743 days I had the privilege of watching my parents close their eyes, bow their heads, and say, “Let’s pray.”

2. Praying Before Meals Marks Your Meal Together As A Sacred Pause In Your Family’s Day.

Flip through the gospels and it becomes apparent rather quickly that sharing a meal together entailed more than the consumption of food. Stories were shared. The day was recounted. Prayer simply invites God to be a part of the conversation that follows.

3. Praying Before Meals Prompts Lively Discussions About God And The Bible.

After praying I remember my sisters and I asking questions like, “How do you know God can even hear us? How do we know there is a God? If God answers prayer, what about the people who _______ (insert tragic accident that happened that day)?” No question was out of bounds.

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by Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813 – 1843)

Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a nineteenth-century Church of Scotland minister revered for the depth of his piety. Upon hearing him preach, a listener once wrote, “I saw in you a beauty in holiness that I never saw before.”1 He served two churches, including St. Peter’s Church in Dundee, before dying at age 29.

Upon M’Cheyne’s death, ministerial colleague Andrew Bonar published a biography that included many of his manuscripts and letters. Taken from that work, this selection illustrates his determination to fight sin through spiritual disciplines. It shows the intensity with which this servant of God craved communion with his Heavenly Father.

I ought to pray before seeing any one. Often when I sleep long, or meet with others early, and then have family prayer, and breakfast, and forenoon callers, often it is eleven or twelve o’clock before I begin secret prayer. This is a wretched system. It is unscriptural. Christ rose before day, and went into a solitary place. David says, ‘Early will I seek Thee; Thou shalt early hear my voice.’ Mary Magdalene came to the sepulchre while it was yet dark. Family prayer loses much of its power and sweetness; and I can do no good to those who come to seek from me. The conscience feels guilty, the soul unfed, the lamp not trimmed. Then, when secret prayer comes, the soul is often out of tune. I feel it is far better to begin with God—to see his face first—to get my soul near him before it is near another. ‘When I awake I am still with Thee.’

If I have slept too long, or am going [on] an early journey, or my time is any way shortened, it is best to dress hurriedly, and have a few minutes alone with God, than to give it up for lost.

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“Prayer is the conversation of friends. It is not a mere convenience for letting God know what we are thinking or what we want. Prayer is that for which we were made. It is at the heart of God’s plan of salvation.”

~ Tim Chester, The Message of Prayer, 27.

Pastor Steve Gaines wrote in his book, Pray Like It Matters

Acts 4:31 says, “And when they prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” God shook them physically and spiritually. I believe that our churches today could use a good spiritual “shaking.” The early Christians prayed, God shook them by filling them with the His Spirit, and then he shook the world as they witnessed boldly for Christ.

God ministered to through them to perform mighty miracles. There was no way to they were going to keep silent. They had “seen and heard” too much from their Lord. Their lives had been radically changed. It all began with prayer! Perhaps if we would pray as they did, we too would be “shaken.” We just might “see and hear” more from the Lord then we do presently (p.24).

Oswald Chambers

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all. Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.” 
~ Oswald Chambers

“Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.”

~ D. L. Moody

BI - Bold Legacy - DL Moody Profile

“The most important thing a born again Christian can do is to pray.”

~ Chuck Smith

 

“Praying in faith is not denying that you have problems, but believing that God is BIGGER than your problems.”

~ Dr. Jerry Fowler

 

Rick Warren

“The more you pray, the less you’ll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You’ll feel more patient and less pressured.”

“History is silent about revivals that did not begin with prayer.”

~ Edwin Orr

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