John 6:11 – “Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise, also of the fish as much as they wanted.”
Deuteronomy 8:10 – “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.” NASB
A custom in the Middle East during biblical times was that people, without fail, gave thanks before eating and would usually give thanks after the meal. It was initially done to recognize God’s provision and as an expression of gratitude. Like so many things, it evolved into a religious or societal ritual, as is often the case today! I know many who would never dream of eating a meal without saying, Grace.
In those days, those at the table would repeat the host’s words as he gave thanks. If a prophet were present, he would be expected to take the lead in the prayer and bless the food giving thanks as is described in 1 Samuel 9:13 – “…he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat.” It was customary, but initially, it was far more than custom and proper recognition of God’s provision and their gratitude.
When Jesus fed the 5,000, we read that “after Jesus had given thanks, the food was distributed….” In providing the 4,000, Matthew carefully includes the fact that Jesus gave thanks before anyone ate. The Jews were conscious that all they had come from God and willingly expressed gratitude. Sadly, for many then and now, it is nothing more than a religious or societal ritual, not a genuine expression of gratitude.
They also customarily gave thanks at the end of the meal, as is reflected in Deuteronomy 8:10 – “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD….” Gratitude demands acknowledgment of not only the provision but the provider. I would suggest that if you say grace and pray over your meal without giving thought or having genuine gratitude, it is more of an insult to God than an act He will receive and recognize with blessing.
Therefore, make your words true expressions of your heart’s gratitude, and always remember that all we are and have has its source in God. In Him, we live and move and have our being.
I pray blessings upon you as you go through your day!