clbent04

Why Do We Bless Our Food?

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What is the purpose of praying to God to bless our food?  Or more specifically, what are we trying to accomplish by reciting the phrase, "Please bless this food"?

Another common version of this is for members to recite the phrase, "Please bless this food to strengthen and nourish our bodies" or "Please bless this food for the strength and nourishment of our bodies."

Are we to specifically bless food for the purpose of strengthening and nourishing our bodies?

What I don't understand is regardless of if we ask God to bless the food for our nourishment, the food is going to nourish us either way.  We pray for nutrient food to nourish us, and it nourishes us. We don't pray for nutrient food to nourish us, and it nourishes us nonetheless. So what is the point of reciting a phrase in prayer that doesn't change the outcome of the food nourishing our bodies?

Do we specifically have to say the words "please bless this food" in prayer?  Recently I've tried avoiding repeating these words in prayer because I don't understand why I'm saying them.  I'd be happy to return to use this specific phrase in prayer if we are in fact instructed to recite it, but I'd probably also need someone to help me understand why we would specifically need to say verbatim "please bless this food" before every meal.

It's more meaningful for me to pray before meals with the purpose of acknowledging before my Heavenly Father that all physical and spiritual nourishment comes from Him.  I believe this is the true purpose of why we are to pray over our food.  It's make more sense to me that we are to pray over our food in gratitude and remembrance of the life God gives us rather than asking Him to "bless the food."

Since we depend on food and drink for our daily sustenance, our hunger serves as a needed reminder that all life and good comes from God.  Making the connection that we are just as dependent on Heavenly Father for spiritual nourishment as we are with physical nourishment has made my prayers before meals more meaningful.

 

 

Edited by clbent04

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25 minutes ago, clbent04 said:

What is the purpose of praying to God to bless our food?  Or more specifically, what are we trying to accomplish by reciting the phrase, "Please bless this food"?

Another common version of this is for members to recite the phrase, "Please bless this food to strengthen and nourish our bodies" or "Please bless this food for the strength and nourishment of our bodies."

Are we to specifically bless food for the purpose of strengthening and nourishing our bodies?

What I don't understand is regardless of if we ask God to bless the food for our nourishment, the food is going to nourish us either way.  We pray for nutrient food to nourish us and it nourishes us. We don't pray for nutrient food to nourish us, and it nourishes us nonetheless. So what is the point of reciting a phrase in prayer that doesn't change the outcome of the food nourishing our bodies?

Do we specifically have to say the words "please bless this food" in prayer?  Recently I've tried avoiding repeating these words in prayer because I don't understand why I'm saying them.  I'd be happy to return to use this specific phrase in prayer if we are in fact instructed to recite them, but I'd probably also need someone to help me understand why we would specifically need to say verbatim "please bless this food" before every meal.

It's more meaningful for me to pray before meals with the purpose of acknowledging before my Heavenly Father that all physical and spiritual nourishment comes from Him.  I believe this is the true purpose of why we are to pray over our food.  It's make more sense to me that we are to pray over our food in gratitude and remembrance of the life God gives us rather than asking Him to "bless the food."

Since we depend on food and drink for our daily sustenance, our hunger serves as a needed reminder that all life and good comes from God.  Making the connection that we are just as dependent on Heavenly Father for spiritual nourishment as we are with physical nourishment has made my prayers before meals more meaningful.

One reason is that we are consecrating our use of it for the welfare of our souls (2 Nephi 32:9, Alma 34:20-27).

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21 minutes ago, CV75 said:

One reason is that we are consecrating our use of it for the welfare of our souls (2 Nephi 32:9, Alma 34:20-27).

Consecrating the use of food for the welfare of our souls makes more sense to me than blessing it to nourish our bodies.  I've even worded my prayers to incorporate this idea and including the specific phrase "please bless this food" by saying something to the effect of, "Please bless this food that the energy provided thereof may be used to do good," but since this is phrased so awkwardly I've tried avoiding specifically saying "please bless this food" altogether. Much more meaningful for me to pray in gratitude thanking the Lord for the food and acknowledging all life and sustenance comes from Him, both physical and spiritual sustenance. 

Edited by clbent04

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I've had similar concerns.  About 3-4 years ago, my kids got the "nourish and strengthen" phrase from somewhere.  And they say it so fast it sounds like one word that they don't know what it means.  So when I say meal prayers, I usually express my gratitude for the food, without asking for a specific blessing on it.

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I was always under the impression that it was a means of teaching little children that we eat for the strength of our bodies.  Repeating such a mantra is helpful in that regard.  It certainly helped with my kids.

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48 minutes ago, Mores said:

I was always under the impression that it was a means of teaching little children that we eat for the strength of our bodies.  Repeating such a mantra is helpful in that regard.  It certainly helped with my kids.

It might help them develop common sense (eat food = nourishment for your body), but I don't think such repetitiveness helps develop a meaningful, active relationship with God

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2 hours ago, clbent04 said:

What is the purpose of praying to God to bless our food?  Or more specifically, what are we trying to accomplish by reciting the phrase, "Please bless this food"?

Another common version of this is for members to recite the phrase, "Please bless this food to strengthen and nourish our bodies" or "Please bless this food for the strength and nourishment of our bodies."

Are we to specifically bless food for the purpose of strengthening and nourishing our bodies?

What I don't understand is regardless of if we ask God to bless the food for our nourishment, the food is going to nourish us either way.  We pray for nutrient food to nourish us, and it nourishes us. We don't pray for nutrient food to nourish us, and it nourishes us nonetheless. So what is the point of reciting a phrase in prayer that doesn't change the outcome of the food nourishing our bodies?

Do we specifically have to say the words "please bless this food" in prayer?  Recently I've tried avoiding repeating these words in prayer because I don't understand why I'm saying them.  I'd be happy to return to use this specific phrase in prayer if we are in fact instructed to recite it, but I'd probably also need someone to help me understand why we would specifically need to say verbatim "please bless this food" before every meal.

It's more meaningful for me to pray before meals with the purpose of acknowledging before my Heavenly Father that all physical and spiritual nourishment comes from Him.  I believe this is the true purpose of why we are to pray over our food.  It's make more sense to me that we are to pray over our food in gratitude and remembrance of the life God gives us rather than asking Him to "bless the food."

Since we depend on food and drink for our daily sustenance, our hunger serves as a needed reminder that all life and good comes from God.  Making the connection that we are just as dependent on Heavenly Father for spiritual nourishment as we are with physical nourishment has made my prayers before meals more meaningful.

 

 

I only express thanks for the food and those who took the time and effort to prepare it. Asking for an actual blessing on the food implies that it is not going to nourish our bodies well without it. If that was the case then most of the earth's population would not exist due to malnutrition. I am not saying that a blessing couldn't actually be requested for the food if it was wanted or for whatever reason needed; but that phrase in prayers everyone seems to say is really nothing more than habit. I doubt they really give it much thought when they say it.

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We are lucky in today's society that our food is wholesome for the most part.  The FDA does an excellent job of keeping our food free from bacteria, parasites, etc.

There are some pretty good reasons why pork was not kosher back in the day.  

I react pretty violently from both ends from food poisoning.  

Boy, can I tell some stories...

 

I remember Cysticercosis from medical school.  eeeeww!

And don't look up pictures of Ascariasis whatever you do.  Fair warning.  

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Edited by mikbone

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47 minutes ago, scottyg said:

I only express thanks for the food and those who took the time and effort to prepare it. Asking for an actual blessing on the food implies that it is not going to nourish our bodies well without it. If that was the case then most of the earth's population would not exist due to malnutrition. I am not saying that a blessing couldn't actually be requested for the food if it was wanted or for whatever reason needed; but that phrase in prayers everyone seems to say is really nothing more than habit. I doubt they really give it much thought when they say it.

Exactly. Spot on to my opinion on the matter.

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3 hours ago, clbent04 said:

It might help them develop common sense (eat food = nourishment for your body), but I don't think such repetitiveness helps develop a meaningful, active relationship with God

What?  Your children only pray when they're ready to eat?

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We give thanks for and bless our food because that is the example Christ set for us:

Matt. 15:35–36

“And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

“And he took the seven loaves and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.”

Luke 9:16

“Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.”

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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6 hours ago, clbent04 said:

Hoping Bishop @Vort will weigh in on this one. How do you "bless your food" or what specific phraseology do you use? 

I like what's been said, especially @CV75's insight. I personally tend to agree with your and @scottyg's comment. I always offer thanks for my food, and I usually ask a blessing on it. I agree that that seems redundant—food is itself a blessing—but that's how I was taught.

As others have mentioned, when we "bless" the sacrament, we are actually invoking God's sanctification upon it, so that we too can be sanctified. I like the idea that we specifically set apart and sanctify that which enters a temple, and since our bodies are temples of God, it makes sense to sanctify that which enters it. But in doing so, we should be ever more reminded that we are in fact literal temples of God, perhaps the most literal temples of all, and that we should be sanctified in all we do, not merely eating, lest we be like the ancient hypocritical Pharisees.

(For the record, serving for a short time as a counselor in a bishopric was likely the closest I will ever get to being a bishop.)

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5 hours ago, The Folk Prophet said:

We give thanks for and bless our food because that is the example Christ set for us:

Matt. 15:35–36

“And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

“And he took the seven loaves and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.”

Luke 9:16

“Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.”

Yes, but my point is how did Christ specifically bless the food and to what purpose? To strengthen and nourish the bodies of those who consumed it?

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I think the important thing is to pray with real intent and that the feelings of the heart and the cogitations of the mind are toward the Lord. Some people may well need to pray that the food be blessed to nourish and strengthen them, or feel gratitude that there is a way the Lord provided to nourish and strengthen their bodies, or be circumspect in using wisdom and moderation in what they eat, etc.

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10 hours ago, clbent04 said:

Yes, but my point is how did Christ specifically bless the food and to what purpose? To strengthen and nourish the bodies of those who consumed it?

What else would you bless food for?

Even desserts and the like, in the end, do this. If one were starving to death a donut would sustain, nourish, and strengthen them, and keep them from weakness and death. Of course food can be abused, but that's a different subject.

Here's the point: For God to "bless" something is to make it holy or sacred. Asking for His blessing is to show a desire that it be holy and sacred. Food is for our nourishment. That our nourishment, as with all things, be with an eye single to the glory of God is the point. We ask a blessing on the food, that our eating be for the nourishment of our bodies, which are gifts from God and tools we use to serve Him. We ask a blessing on our food to that end.

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8 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

What else would you bless food for?

That's what I've been wondering myself. Surely the Lord cares more about us remembering Him and turning our hearts to Him rather than blessing food for the nourishment of our bodies alone.  However you need to pray to effectively keep your heart aligned to the Lord is acceptable.  My issue largely rests on the vain repetition of the phrase "please bless this food" without internalizing what it really means.  The Savior didn't tell us to use that specific phrase, and He certainly didn't teach us to recite it mindlessly. 

40 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Here's the point: For God to "bless" something is to make it holy or sacred. Asking for His blessing is to show a desire that it be holy and sacred. Food is for our nourishment. That our nourishment, as with all things, be with an eye single to the glory of God is the point. We ask a blessing on the food, that our eating be for the nourishment of our bodies, which are gifts from God and tools we use to serve Him. We ask a blessing on our food to that end.

Some people don't realize the point you just made.  Some people believe blessing food is to nourish the body alone.  That's not the point.  The point is, as you described, to consecrate the food as nourishment to our bodies for the purpose of serving God.  When we make the connection that blessing food should serve as a reminder that God provides both physical and spiritual life, that we need Him every minute of every hour to survive, that is when it becomes meaningful.  We need God as the sole source of everything good and praiseworthy to nourish our spiritual life just as much as we need Him for our survival in this mortal life as He has provided the air we breathe, water we drink, and food we eat.

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1 hour ago, The Folk Prophet said:

What else would you bless food for?

Follow up question: Do you think Jesus' example to us of blessing food could also be for the purpose of giving thanks for the life that passed on that we are consuming be it animal or plant?

Edited by clbent04

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On a side note, I knew someone who, for several years, while blessing food, would. instead of saying something like "and we ask thee to bless this food" would say " I bless this food." WHen I asked him why, he said that he had the Priesthood, so he could bless the food, and that there was no need to ask Heavenly Father to bless the food when he could do it himself. Apparently this was part of the reason why God gave His children the Priesthood - so that they could act do the Father's work.

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My thought -- I'm not sure the phraseology matters. When I have thought about this topic, I usually end up at D&C 59:21, acknowledging God's hand in all things -- including that I have food to eat. It usually seems to me that blessing the food or saying grace or whatever you want to call this tradition has as its main purpose to remind me that, as King Benjamin said, I rely on God for daily sustenance. An expression of gratitude definitely seems appropriate. A forward looking blessing is not inappropriate. I don't expect to ever find some metaphysical change in the food or in my body's ability to digest. It seems more for my spiritual self to remember God in one mundane part of life.

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