The Domestic Church: A Simple Guide for Family Prayer before Meals

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There are hundreds of rituals that we perform every day in our homes. Whether we realize it or not, we are creatures of habit. We all have rhythms, routines, and rituals that make up our daily lives. Most of us wake up in the morning, drink a cup of coffee, and brush our teeth. Or maybe we start the day off with a simple prayer and Bible reading. Routines and rituals are not a bad thing. They keep us on track and remind us of what matters most. In a spiritual sense, I believe that we need to have rhythms and routines to grow in our daily walk with Christ.

The truth is, your home is a domestic church, which is a term the early church used to describe the connection between the church and the family and our daily rituals. The home can be a place of Christian worship, learning, and discipleship when we bring the components of a worship service, which include reading the Bible, praying, and singing, into our homes through family liturgy.

The ordinary places that we inhabit most such as the family table, the living room, or even the car can become places of prayer and worship. Through simple daily activities like sharing meals with one another, our homes become sacred places of hospitality and thanksgiving that echo the very sacrament of the Lord’s Table as we gather together to break bread, share stories, and give thanks. Something as ordinary as a bowl of soup or a grilled cheese sandwich can become a sacrament if it is made and received with love. How beautiful would it be if we offered up the ordinary times of the day and the spaces of our homes for the glory of God.

About the Book

Field Guide for Family Prayer is a field guide that offers prayers for everyday, ordinary families. We have written this for families as a simple guide containing tools for prayer and encouragement to find moments throughout the day to pray together as a family. These prayers have been used in our home, around our family table, in our living room, and in the evenings in our children’s rooms as we gather together.

While some of these prayers are our own, many have been adapted from several different sources, especially the Book of Common Prayer. Some are very old, while others are new. Field Guide for Family Prayer is written to be a helpful guide for families that are looking for ways to integrate their faith in the home by praying with their children. You can use these prayers at your own pace and adapt them to best suit your family and the age of your children.

As you begin, we encourage you to make time and set aside places for prayer in your routine. Search for moments throughout the day that fit into your family rhythms. Consistency is key, as it will become part of your day that your family will look forward to. Make space in your home for prayer. Gather around the table, share a meal, and make time for each other. Whether it be around the dinner table, in the living room, or in your children’s rooms at bedtime, may your home become a house of prayer.

Table Blessings

So much of life happens when sharing a common meal around our dinner tables. Most of us eat three meals a day. That’s about 1,095 meals each person has over the span of a year. Wow, that’s a lot of meals! Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised to find that the Bible places a table at the center of the spiritual lives of God’s people.

In the Old Testament we see the table of Passover; in the New Testament we find the table of Communion. Jesus Christ often used the context of sharing a meal to minister to people and to teach others important lessons about the kingdom of God. The Gospels show us that Jesus loved meals. In the book of Luke alone, there are ten stories of Jesus dining with various people. Each Gospel ends with Jesus breaking bread and sharing the Last Supper with His disciples (see Matthew 26:17–30; Mark 14:12–26; Luke 22:7–39; and John 13:1–17:26). Luke even records Jesus making a meal for His disciples after His resurrection (see Luke 24:42–43).

Table blessings find their origin in the ancient Jewish practice of saying a blessing before the beginning of a meal. The practice reminds us that we should give thanks to God who is the giver of everything. Often called “saying grace,” it is customary for Christians to say a short prayer or thankful phrase before or after a meal. Throughout the centuries, Christians have continued the practice of blessing their meals at dinner tables around the world. Table blessings help bring families, friends, and communities together in gratitude and thanksgiving to God, thus making a profound connection with God and one another.

Here is a collection of traditional and contemporary table blessings that can be used for meals throughout the day. Some of them are very old, while others are new. There are even a few shorter ones for on-the-go meals for busy families.

Contemporary Blessings

For food and health and happy days
receive our gratitude and praise. Amen.

Thank You, God, for this food.
For rest and home.
And all things good.
For wind and rain and sun above.
But, most of all, those we love. Amen.

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.

Thank You for the food we eat,
Thank You for the world so sweet,
Thank You for the birds that sing,
Thank You, God, for everything. Amen.

God is great, God is good.
Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hands, we are fed.
Let us thank Him for our bread. Amen.

For this and all we are about to receive,
make us truly grateful, Lord.
Through Christ we pray. Amen.

For food that stays our hunger,
For rest that brings us ease,
For homes where memories linger,
We give our thanks for these. Amen.

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

Lord, thank You for the food before us,
the family and friends beside us,
and the love between us. Amen.

Traditional Blessings

Bless, O Lord, this food to our use
and us to Thy service, and
keep us ever mindful of the needs of others.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Be present at our table, Lord.
Be here and everywhere adored.
Thy people bless, and grant that we
may feast in paradise with Thee. Amen.
—John Wesley

Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be
And bless these gifts
Bestowed by Thee.
And bless our loved ones everywhere,
And keep them in Your loving care. Amen.

Great God, our gratitude we bring,
Accept our humble offering,
For all the gifts on us bestowed,
Thy name be evermore adored. Amen.

Lord, bless this food and grant that we
May thankful for Thy mercies be.
Teach us to know by whom we’re fed;
Bless us with Christ, the living bread. Amen.

We thank You, God, for this our food,
for life and health and every good.
Let manna to our souls be given
the bread of life sent down from heaven. Amen.

We thank You, Lord, for all you give;
the food we eat, the lives we live;
and to our loved ones far away,
please send your blessings, Lord, we pray. Amen.

Bless us, oh Lord, and these Thy gifts
which we are about to receive
from Thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Would you like help in getting started with family prayer? In their new book Field Guide for Family Prayer, Kay and Winfield Bevins share simple prayers for all occasions. It is a field guide that offers prayers for everyday, ordinary families. It was written as a simple guide containing tools for prayer and encouragement to find moments throughout the day to pray together as a family. These prayers have been tested in homes, around family tables, in living rooms, and in the evenings in children’s rooms as we gather together. Get your copy from our store here.

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Winfield Bevins has a passion for equipping others to spread the gospel in their own context. He serves as the Director of Asbury Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative. As a seasoned practitioner, he has used his experience to train leaders from diverse backgrounds on three different continents. He frequently speaks at conferences, churches, seminaries and retreats on a variety of topics. He is the author of several books, including Church Planting Revolution, Field Guide for Daily Prayer and Ever Ancient, Ever New. He and his wife Kay, have three beautiful girls Elizabeth, Anna Belle, and Caroline.

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