That’s because in our house Little Brother is watching you! Yes, he roams the kitchen table like a roaring lion waiting and watching for a disobedient dinner patron to commit this most dreadful of sins:
Praying with your eyes OPEN!
If there was a word that described the pace and structure of our house, it would be this: HAPHAZARD. So on the nights I cook dinner, if I’m not utterly exhausted, and if I happen to muster up the energy to clear off random acts of homework, unfinished Lego kits, half-sorted piles of junk and legitimate mail, and other miscellaneous objects from our kitchen table in order to have a “family dinner”, then I usually insist that we say a blessing.
It’s only fitting that we should ask God to bless our food for the nourishment of our bodies and oh did I mention the “hands that lovingly prepared it”? Anyway, my six year old son still prefers the standard:
God is Great
God is Good
Let us thank Him for our food
By his hands we all are fed
Thank you God for daily bread
Sometimes I throw in a quick extra request before everyone can shout Amen and start digging in. I’ll wiggle a sentence or two sideways in that brief interval before the first mouth utters first syllable “A” and mutter something about a world event, “and Lord, please bless our soldiers who are digging in and trying to stay safe from enemy fire” or “please bless the starving children in Africa.” Or I may say, “Please bless our daughter as she travels out of town this weekend.” The point is I try.
Prayer is important. It’s important to me. But generally my family just wants to eat, if there are actually full plates sitting before them. The “please bless and save the world” prayers are preferred at bedtime, not meals. See my son likes the prayers, but what he really likes is to be the enforcer and check the table for any wandering eyeballs that happen to reveal themselves behind lids that should be closed.
“(Sinful person name)’s eyes were open!” he gleefully proclaims if anyone opens their eye at any point during the prayer before Amen is stated.
He should be a lawyer I think. He expects obedience to “the law.” No mercy is granted, and if my son was sheriff, you would be flogged in the public square for not adhering to the Eyes Remain Shut regulation of mealtime prayers.
I sometimes sigh and wish our grace at meals were more full of….well, grace! Less legalism, more words full of thanksgiving and grace and Godly requests for others. I want prayer to be our habit of love, not our obligation to following a rule.
I believe that is how Jesus wants us to come to him…with thankful hearts, with prayer and petition making our requests made known. And then the peace that surpasses human understanding will guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.
That’s the idea anyway. It’s just that sometimes that’s when the cat jumps up on the table. The solicitor phone call rings. Ding Dong goes the doorbell. The forgotten oven timer finally sounds reminding us that the food I prematurely took out is now ready. Prayers are started and quickly interrupted. Eyes open and my son is taking names and calling them out.
We live in a busy world and when did it get so hard to just make a family meal happen? You know; the table is cleared and set, steaming hot healthy food waits to be ladled onto shiny white plates, iced drinks await to be sipped, napkins are in laps, prayers are said, and Dad is ready to slice the meatloaf. Sweet children patiently await the food to be served. Then we’ll all talk about our glorious day and how blessed we are.
OK, scratch the record at this point. Still as moms we try, and dads too! Interruption is our standard and peace seems to be our exception, but still we press on with endurance to have a family meal, complete with meaningful prayer and good food that we are indeed thankful for.
As for me and my household? Well, we all try to keep our eyes shut as long as possible. Never mind the plank that frequently juts out from them, we just don’t feel like getting a verbal citation from the Eyeball Police.
A QUICK prayer for your family dinner:
Lord Jesus, please bless the mother’s hands today who tried her darndest to lovingly prepare a family meal after a full day of work and responsibilities, for kids who are not perfectly behaved or quiet, and a husband who doesn’t make it home on time because he works so hard. Bless the solicitor who calls because they’re just arriving at their second job because times are tight, and the cat who reminds us he’d like to eat too, if it wouldn’t be too much of a bother, and the little Cub Scout who just happened to sell popcorn at an inopportune time to raise money for his troop. Bless our over-scheduled lives and our sometimes under-nourished souls. May we remember that even when we don’t give You the praise for our dinner and even more so for our lives, that You are still watching over us, blessing us, and in control. We thank you for not only the food that nourishes our bodies, but for You who feeds our spirit and nourishes our life. Help order our time so that we may enjoy eating as a family and with minimal distraction and drama. And Lord, please keep us safe from the Eyeball Police! Amen!
PS – I’ve made this meatloaf and it’s really good. Especially the bacon topper! It’s essentially the same as my mother in law’s recipe, but I was too lazy too type it, so I pulled this from About.Com
1950s Meatloaf Recipe:
- 1-1/2 pounds ground beef (chuck is best)
- 1/2 pound ground pork sausage (seasoned or not)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup fine bread crumbs
- 1 to 2 large cloves of garlic, pressed
- 1 cup diced sweet onion
- 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper (sweet capsicum)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 package dry onion soup mix
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste, divided use
- 2 to 4 strips bacon, cut in half (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine ground beef, pork sausage, eggs, bread crumbs, garlic, sweet onion, bell pepper, oregano, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, onion soup mix, milk, and half of the tomato paste. Gently mix only until combined. Do not overwork the meat or it will become tough. Form into a loaf. Cover with the remaining half can of tomato paste. Weave the bacon strips over the top.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let meatloaf rest 15 minutes before cutting to serve.
Yield: 8 servings
1950’s-style Meatloaf Recipe Photo © 2010 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.