Pray Before You Eat?

We don't pray before we eat at home or out at restaurants.

I used to do it all the time when I first became a Christian. It was like, you get saved and you start praying over your food or die. It was that simple.

If you got sick after a time that you ate and forgot to pray, well, the lack of praying was the obvious reason.

So, I knew I had to bless my food or there was a good chance I could get poisoned from it.

Plus, when your in public, nothing says "we are Christian's, look at us" like a table full of sweet content faces bowing their heads to pray before a meal.

One time, back when I was 18 or 19 years old a bunch of us from Swaggart's college were at Chili's.

We went there a lot after church.

We of course always prayed before we ate, like good Christians do.

But this night, a waiter was being a real butt to us. He was giving us attitude for little things like the fact that we wanted refills on our drinks or more Ranch dressing.

I complained to a guy that was with us, Garth, "that waiter is so rude. I'm not gonna tip him!" and everyone at the table all agreed, he was not worthy of our tips.

The waiter returned to our table, and Garth said to him. "hey man, how's your day going? You seem a little stressed maybe?" and the waiter replied "yea, I'm just tired. I've been here since 9:30am this morning, I'm just dead on my feet right now." It was 10:00pm.

Garth said "wow, I can imagine. I'm sorry your having to work such a long day. I hope we aren't making it harder for you?"

In which the waiter replied, "Na, man, it's just part of my job. I just wish I felt better and wasn't so tired".

Him and Garth talked every time the waiter came back to the table. By the time we left, the waiter was laughing and seemed like he was enjoying talking to us.

I felt like a heel. All I saw was the way the waiter was acting. I didn't see the way I SHOULD BE ACTING, Until Garth started doing it.

We all tipped the waiter.

The fact that we all prayed before we ate only said "we are religious" but the fact that Garth took the time to see past the bad attitude, and to really just be Jesus to this guy who had been working 12 hours, well that was Christ eating at Chilies right there.

I NEVER forgot that night.

It made a lasting impact on me.

I don't have a problem with people who pray before they eat,  but seriously, why do we do it as a "Must do" kinda thing?

I hear it's because Jesus did.

But he did it when he was taking loaves and fishes and feeding 5000 with it or doing  what we call communion now. But where did he tell us to join hands in a public restaurant, and pray before we ate our food?

I though he said we were NOT to pray in public?

So, when my kids ask me why we don't pray before we eat I just tell them that, sure, we can pray, it's always good to talk to God, to thank him for our food but there really is no place in the bible that tells us we have to make it a ritual and we must be discreet about it in public, not do it for attention or to send a message to the people around us.

We do have to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that is what reflects Jesus more then people seeing us pray. The cranky waiter who doesn't bring our refills fast enough, he is our neighbor, as Garth showed me over 25 years ago.

Click here, to watch on of the best public prayers EVER!!