Grace After Meals

Well, my apologies to those who have been patiently (and not so patiently, yes, you know who you are) waiting for The Offerings of Our Lips. But, after going back to the drawing board in regard to the content, I’m finally getting very close to the place where I will feel ready to start approaching a publisher or two about getting this out.

As a reward for so patiently waiting [small grin] and because I’ve been requested to do so, I’ve decided to post the text of my “Grace After Meals” prayer.

It is actually one of my favorite prayers from the collection, as it has significance on several layers. But I leave it to you to discover those on your own. While this is one piece, those who are familiar with the traditional Jewish liturgy will probably recognize the influence of the four traditional blessings of Birkat haMazon. More readily apparent however, is the prayer’s reliance on Deuteronomy 8:1-18, where we find the command on which the prayer is based.

I hope you enjoy using this, and that it holds many blessings for you and your family. One final comment, the prayer is designed to be reader-response. The reader indicated by regular font and the responses of all by italicized font. Feel free to use it in whatever manner you find works best for your family, however. Given the age of my kids, I often read a phrase and my kids repeat it, and we go through the whole prayer like that. We’ve begun to put motions to it that help them remember and even my three year old (almost four) is all ready beginning to repeat the lines before I finish. They really enjoy it; which has been my great delight. Well, without further ado, here is “Grace After Meals” from the forthcoming prayer book, The Offerings of Our Lips.

Grace After Meals

Let us bless the Lord together.

Lest we forget the Lord our God. Who brought us out of slavery and brings us to a good land

May we be careful to do the whole commandment that He has commanded us

That we may live, go in, multiply, and possess the land the Lord swore to our Father Abraham.

Bless the Lord together.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and remember the road on which He has led us.

He has tested us that we may know,

That man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Know in your heart, that our Father, God, will discipline us.

So we will keep the commandments of the Lord our God, walk in his ways, and fear Him.

May the words of our mouth be the will of our heart.

As it is written, β€œand you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless YHWH your God for the good land He has given you.”

Take care lest you forget the Lord your God,

by not keeping His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes.

Lest when we have eaten and are full, lest when we have built good houses, and all we have is multiplied,

We lift up our hearts and forget the Lord our God.

Beware, lest you say in your heart,

My power and the might of my hand have earned me this wealth.

Remember the Lord your God

For it is He who gives us strength to confirm His covenant that He swore to our fathers.

Bless the Lord.

Blessed is the Merciful One, Ruler of the world, Who created this food. We bless You, we honor You, we thank You. We are Your people and You are our God.

Deuteronomy 8:1-18

 

(c) copyright 2006 Nathan A. Long

15 thoughts on “Grace After Meals

  1. Great stuff Nate. I’m curious though. I have kids that are 5 and 4, and they are ALWAYS, WITHOUT FAIL, the last finished eating, usually 20-30 minutes after my wife and I are done. How do you implement this in your home? Do you just wait until everyone is done and then pray?

    Shalom!
    Aaron

  2. Ah, the culprit identifies herself!

    Aaron, my 4 year-old son is a very slow eater as well. Depending on how patient I am feeling at that moment we sometimes wait for him to finish and sometimes start when he is still finishing up the last thing on his plate.

    He drives us a little nuts cause everyone else in the family is a fast eater…but I’m sure he’ll be a lot healthier than the rest of us! We do have to tell him to stop talking and start eating 5 or 6 times a meal. But he finishes about 5 or 10 minutes at most after the rest of us.

  3. Hello Nate!

    I thought of emailing your privately about this, but I think that this might help you flush out some more on birkat hamazon.

    First, do you feel that birkat hamazon is a commandment from Torah/Scripture? If so, do you carry it out in all settings after all meals? Or, do you frame or understand this observance as something other than a commandment. If so, what setting do you carry it out in and when?

    Thank you!
    Peter

  4. Hello Nate,

    I appreciate your integration of Scripture into this blessing. The traditional texts do contain Scriptural allusions, but I really enjoy how you weave in the Deut 8.

    Peter

  5. Wow, Nate – what a wonderful prayer! I love the reader-response format, too. I may print it out and imploy it with our girls next Shabbat! I’m looking forward to the book πŸ™‚
    Shalom!

  6. Pati, I’m glad it resonated with you. I encourage you not to wait until Shabbat (or perhaps your girls visit on Shabbat or something…).

    Peter, your first comment warrants a longer reply, as it touches on several issues (as I’m sure you were aware when you commented πŸ˜‰ ). I’m working on it now, but you may not see it till tomorrow.

  7. Nate-
    I know we can do it for any meal – perhaps I’ll try lunch this week – but Shabbat is about the only time we get to eat together as a family due to my husband’s work schedule. Also, they’re getting used to Shabbat meals being a bit “more” than a regular meal, so we could possibly keep their interest longer!

  8. Hello Nate:

    I think that you can see why I thought about emailing you in private about this. Private discussion would not require an apologetic presentation of your position. You could just tell me, and I think that I would understand. You are welcome to reply by email if you pefer.

    kol tuv,
    Peter

  9. I actually like the idea of exploring if further…my reply is the thing after next on my agenda.

    Pati, definitely make it work for your family. What does your husband do for a living? I get you and one other person on the TR forum mixed up for some reason. Is your husband the farmer/carpenter?

  10. I enjoyed this very much. thanks for taking the time with it that you have! It reminds me of when I was growing up and how we’d have read/response prayers every Lord’s Day (we would have a Catholic “Sabbath” meal every Saturday night). This is a wonderful way to do things as a family. I know that I still have very fond memories of those meal together. this will influence your children in good ways I’m sure!

    shalom!

  11. Nate – No, my hubby’s the poor guy working for Microsoft πŸ™‚ I think he’d rather be a farmer/carpenter, tho! Seriously, most week nights he’s home around 8pm (on a good day), and the girls have their dinner between 5 and 6! I usually wait to eat with hubby. Hence, the extra special-ness of Shabbat for us πŸ™‚

  12. Peter, somehow my reply to your first comment here got lost in the shuffle. I do believe blessing God post eating is a commandment…in a sense. In the context of the passage, it is actually a prediction.

    So…we practice it after almost all meals in our home (I’d say after all, but there are periodic exceptions), and do not after meals in restaurants. However, I believe we ought to start doing so upon our return to the mini-van.

    I had a longer reply that touched on a bigger issue, but I have forgotten the mental association that your comment sparked. Oh well, if it hits me again…

  13. Update: we now say this in restaurants as well, but have modified to saying only the last paragraph together (the whole family has it memorized), and even many friends of ours that often eat with us, have learned the prayer through repetition.

    So typically each meal throughout the week, we say the last paragraph “Blessed is the Merciful One, ruler of the world…” together, and then on Shabbat evening say the entire thing together in a reader/response style.

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