The Art of Saying Grace

don't pray in the rain if you don't pray when ...

When I was a child, not a meal passed when we didn’t “say grace.” Someone , usually my father, would take a meaningful pause. We would all bow our heads and he would begin, “Thank you for this meal that you have put before us.” The prayer only lasted a minute and as a child I found it mostly an annoying ritual that delayed my dinner. On the big occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, granddad had the honors and saying grace was more solemn and potent. Today I grapple with how to incorporate this into a daily routine. Sometimes with friends who also feel deeply spiritual one of us will say a prayer, chant or mantra before we begin to eat. Though we are of different religious backgrounds, Sikh, Hindu and Christian, we pray to the one God with many forms.

But in public and with friends and colleagues who don’t seem particularly interested in spiritual practice I pause before eating and repeat words of gratitude silently to myself. Sometimes my table companions recognize the pause, but most of the time they’re absorbed in other things and don’t. Saying grace in the traditional sense means, “a short prayer before or after a meal in which a blessing is asked for and thanks given,” according to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. The word grace derives from Middle English and Old French. It probably reaches back to Latin and we hear it in romance languages. In Italian the words for “thank you” are closely related to grace. They are “grazie” and in Spanish it becomes “gracias.”

During meals today, take a moment to remember the Divine. Say grace in whatever way or form appeals to you. Pause before the meal and enjoy the scents and sights of the food. Consider the hands that prepared it and the Earth that gave birth to it. Food connects us to many people in the process of getting to our tables. By saying grace and being thankful for the food, the blessings extend out to all who helped bring it to you.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011). She is devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life.  Debra leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the world and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. Find out more at: and


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