|Three Steps for a Great Thanksgiving||Party Ideas & Activities||Saying Grace||
What is a Table Grace?
Grace is a short prayer to say thank you and to remember that the food which sustains us comes from a source greater than ourselves. A prayer of grace blesses the food, directly when God is asked to bless the food and indirectly when the act of saying grace enlivens a wholesomeness before eating. Most religious traditions recommend saying grace before eating a meal; some recommend a prayer of gratitude afterwards. Most traditions thank God. Some tribal traditions thank the animal that sacrificed its life that the person eating it might live, and the ecology philosophy acknowledges the Earth and the people who labored to produce the food. There is also a theme of altruism before eating, may all people have food as we do. Although grace is usually religious, if you are not inclined towards religion, you can still lend an elevation to the meal by saying something inspiring on the theme of being grateful or an altruistic wish.
How to Say Grace
When we say grace, as we feel the meaning of the words, we experience grace. To begin, gather the family and guests together. Most families sit down at the dinner table. Some families hold hands during grace. Holding hands adds a pleasant feeling of togetherness. If you don't hold hands, another custom is to clasp your hands together in your lap. Bow your head slightly and close your eyes. One person speaks for the group, usually the host or hostess, or another wise person may be asked to lead the group. The grace may be a classic prayer spoken from memory, or it may be improvised by the person saying the grace. The person saying grace may go beyond gratitude for the food at hand to mention broader subjects. For variety, you can go around the table and let other people add their thoughts, too. When the prayer is over, you may say amen, following the custom of the host or hostess.
Favorite Table Graces
Here is an assortment of blessings for meals from a wide range of religions and philosophies. Some people like a classic grace. Other people find that their favorite grace turns out to be a heart-felt prayer that they composed, inspired by the gathering of friends and family. Some people start or end with a classic grace or inspirational saying and combine it with some expression of their own, too.
Shortest Grace by Dag Hammarskjöld
For what has been—thanks! For what shall be—yes!
From the Poem i thank You God by e. e. cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
Traditional Native American Prayer
Now that I am about to eat, O Great Spirit,
Give my thanks to the beasts and birds
Whom you have provided for my hunger;
And pray deliver my sorrow
That living things must make a sacrifice
For my comfort and well-being.
An excerpt from A Thanksgiving Prayer from the Iroquois (Seneca) People, liberally translated by Chuck Larsen, Seneca, as part of the Fourth World Documentation Project of The Center for World Indigenous Studies.
Now in the beginning of all things
You provided that we inherit your creation
You said: I shall make the earth
on which people shall live
And they shall look to the earth as their mother
And they shall say, "It is she who supports us."
You said that we should always be thankful
For our earth and for each other
So it is that we are gathered here
We are your children, Lord of the Sky.
Philosophical Grace by Garrison Keillor
Thank you, God, for this good life,
And forgive us if we do not love it enough.
When you eat, remember the farmer.
Round the table, peace and joy prevail.
May all who share this season's delight
Enjoy countless more.
Ancient Hindu Blessing
This ritual is One.
The food is One.
We who offer the food are One.
The fire of hunger is also One.
All action is One.
We who understand this are One.
Grace, from Love and God, by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
In thy fullness, my Lord, filled with thy grace,
For the purpose of union with thee,
And to satisfy and glorify thy creation,
With thanks to thee with all our hearts
And with all our love for thee,
With all adoration for thy blessings,
We accept thy gifts as they have come to us.
The food is thy blessing, and in thy service,
We accept in all gratitude, my Lord.
Serving Food by Thich Nhat Hanh
In this food, I see clearly
The presence of the universe
Supporting my existence.
Tassajara Grace by Edward Espe Brown
May I, together with all beings,
Enjoy the pure taste
Of kind mind, joyful mind, big mind.
Grace by Ralph Waldo Emerson
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
We offer thanks. Amen.
An English Grace
Father, we thank thee for this food,
For health and strength and all things good.
May others all these blessings share,
And hearts be grateful everywhere.
Bless these Thy gifts, most gracious God,
From whom all goodness springs.
Make clean out hearts, and feed our souls
With good and joyful things.
Why Say Grace, from Deuteronomy chapter 8, verse 10
And you shall eat and you shall be satisfied. And you shall bless the Lord, your God, for the good land he has given you.
Birkat Hazan, a Jewish Prayer after the Meal
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God,
Ruler of the universe forever,
Who feeds the world through your goodness,
With loving-kindness and tender mercy.
You give bread to every creature,
For your beneficence is unending.
Through your great goodness,
Never have we been and never shall we be in need of food,
For your great Name’s sake.
For you, God, nourish and sustain all beings
And do good unto all and provide food for all thy creatures.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who feeds the world.
Hymn by Martin Rinkart
Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother's arms, hath led us on our way,
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
A Blessing based on Gandhi's Principles
Oh God, bless this food we are about to receive. Give bread to those who hunger; and hunger for justice to us who have bread.
Some nae hae meat.
Some hae meat but cannae eat.
We hae meat and can eat.
Sae the Lord be thankit!
Be Present by John Cennick
Be present at our table, Lord.
Be here and everywhere adored.
Thy creatures bless and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee.
Modern Prayer by Beliefnet Member
Creator, Sustainer and Life-giver,
Bless this food to our use, and us to your service.
Make us grateful for all your mercies
And mindful of the needs of others. Amen.
Dear Lord, thank you for this gift of food
You've placed upon our table.
And help us all to do your work
In any way we're able.