On Giving Thanks

Sometimes we get so used to doing a thing that we give little thought to why we do it. I was reminded of this when someone asked me where the Bible talks about blessing our food before we eat.

Several passages in the gospels speak of “blessing” food before eating. The word is eulogeƍ, which means “to invoke blessings, to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers, to ask God’s blessing on a thing.” Jesus did this before the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:41), and before a similar feeding of 4,000 (Mark 8:7). He also “blessed” the bread when He instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22). And after His resurrection, when Jesus ate with a pair of disciples at the town of Emmaus, He “blessed” the bread (Luke 24:30).

Other passages speak of “giving thanks” before eating. This is the word eucharisteƍ, to feel thankful or give thanks. This term is used in some of the same settings as the word “bless,” namely, at the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:11), the feeding of the 4,000 (Matthew 15:36; Mark 8:6), and the last supper (Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17,19). It should be obvious, then, that these two expressions describe the same thing: a prayer thanking God for the food and asking His blessings on it. (Look also at Acts 27:35; Romans 14:6; 1 Corinthians 10:16,30).

Responding to those who would place unauthorized dietary limits on disciples, Paul wrote that every kind of meat was created by God to be received and shared in, “if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:3-5). God teaches us to have an attitude of thanksgiving toward Him (Ephesians 5:20; Philippians 4:6). That includes thanking Him for our food, acknowledging that we are fed and nourished by His provision.

In a world of buffets, drive-thrus, TV dinners and pizza delivery, let’s not forget to express thanks to our Father for giving us our daily bread.