They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Why Do We Bless Our Food?

As Western thinking Christians today, it is a common practice for us when praying before a meal to say, “Lord bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and our bodies to your service.” Where did this practice of blessing the food before the meal come from and can we find a biblical base for doing it? Some research into the history of this subject provided some interesting answers.

First of all, in the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus would have grown up on, there is not a single instance in which there is a command to bless the food before a meal. The only passage that would come close to indicating this would be Deuteronomy 8:10, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, bless (praise) the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.” In this verse however, it says to bless, “after the meal” and not before the meal. Also, this verse says to direct the blessing towards God and not the meal itself. Marvin Wilson says, “Unlike the practice of most Western Christians today, in Bible times, the Hebrew people did not see the need to bless food, drink, or other material things. In prayer, they focused only on blessing God, the Creator and Giver.” Why was this the case? Wilson continues, “The ancient Hebrews would have never thought of blessing what they ate. The idea would have been totally foreign to them; it would have been an insult of sorts, to God! If everything that God created was very good (Genesis 1:29-31, and Genesis 9:3-4), why should someone imply that it was unholy and profane and needed to be blessed again by God? The idea that you had to sanctify, cleanse, or purify what God had already said was good would have been foreign to the early Jewish people. To do this would have suggested that food and drink were unacceptable until they were blessed and made holy through prayer.” How then did our practice of blessing the food originate? In all likelihood, this practice has its origins in Greek thought. The Greeks and Gnostics shared the belief that material (physical) things were, by nature, unholy and unclean. Therefore, according to this belief, it was necessary to “make holy” the things that were of this world.

You could point out that there are several examples in the new Testament of Jesus giving a blessing at meal time. For example, in Matthew 14:19 it says, “He gave thanks and broke the loaves.” Also, in Matthew 26:26 it says, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it.” Almost every Bible scholar agrees that the “thanks” or “blessing” that Jesus would have given at these meals would have been the b’rakhah (blessing, benediction) that Jews have said for over two thousand years before meals. Jesus would have said, “Barukh attah, Adonai Eloheynu, melekh-ha’olam, haMotzi lecheem, minha’aretz”, or in English, “Blessed are you O lord, our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” In this age-old prayer that Jesus would have recited, again God is the one being blessed and not the food.

What does this short study tell us? Let’s not bless the food since food is already one of God’s blessings to us. Instead, let us bless God for providing our daily bread for us! We should express our gratitude and thanks to God who provides all our needs, including our need for food. By blessing God and thanking Him for our food, it will help us to focus on God and to thank Him in every area of our life. As Paul says in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Note: I gleaned this lesson from the following sources that you may want to look at further. They are:

34 thoughts on “Why Do We Bless Our Food?

  1. Great insights! I support the idea that all food is a blessing from above. Thus, it’s a redundancy to say “Lord, bless this food…” for it’s the same way of saying “Lord bless this blessing…”
    1Cor. 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

  2. You say “let us bless God”.. I find this an odd expression, especially in light of your earlier reasoning that we shouldn’t bless food because that indicates that it is somehow unclean. Wouldn’t it be better to say “let us thank God”?

  3. For a long time I’ve found it strange that we must bless the food or else, what? The food will rot in our stomachs until we get sick? Instead, I chose to believe it is a common ritual that offers more purpose to summon a family to eat together. It is the beginning of the family meal ritual.

    I mentioned to my children that I held this opinion and my very orthodox wife immediately told the children that I was wrong and that the purpose of blessing the food was so that the food would be blessed. (That didn’t go over well with me.)

    Unfortunately for my wife, she married someone that likes to understand the purpose and history of things. This leads to asking “why” questions and a general rejection of all appeals to antiquity: “We do it for the sake of doing it because people have been doing it since the beginning of time and who are we to question the wisdom of our distant knuckle dragging ancestors?”

  4. Pingback: Why Do Mormons Bless Their Food? | a LOT like Laman

  5. I bless my food and I even go back and thank God after I eat. I find that it’s a way of appreciating a God that feed us rather we believe he’s the one doing it or not. It’s not a ritual or tradition it’s facts in the bible even God bless the food he made for him and his disciples when he blessed it.

  6. Whe I “bless” my food I simply thank God for the wonderful abundance He has given me. I don’t actually ask Him to “bless” the food because I’ve never seen this done in the Bible.

    • I agree, to not over complicate it. God is a loving, understanding God. When we acknowledge Him through blessing our food, we are blessing God who provides so that we may eat. I believe it is pleasing to Him. Also, in today’s society where our food comes from so many sources that we may not be aware of whether it’s prepared at home or in a restaurant, my family and I are definitely asking God to sanctify and bless the food for the nourishment of our bodies.

    • No – he gave thanks to God. Remember the question is ‘Why do we Bless our food’. The thinking here is we should Thank God and not Bless food that is already blessed and provided by God.

  7. And to add my 2 cents to the article: Human beings are creatures of habit and it’s a good thing of forming a habit of expressing our gratitude unto God for providing us food while so many are starving.

  8. I believe the purpose of asking God to bless the food is to acknowledge that our bodies are holy and to ask that the food we put into them is sanctified, just as we ask God to sanctify us.

  9. Yes, we always give God thanks. Meal time is no different. Remember all food comes from a seed. Give that some thought. Now look at your authority in Christ. I bless my food in the name of Jesus Christ that what is grown on this earth will give life, health and healing to my body, the temple of the living God.

  10. : Matthew 26:26
    Notice that “they were eating already”
    Then Jesus took opportunity to share with them that which should happen to him…that his body should be broken for us. The blessing of bread and wine mentioned here is that referred to by the Catholic church as the Eucharist (the miraculous transformation of bread and wine into that of jesus’ literal flesh and blood).
    Whether literal or symbolic is not the issue here, the issue is that this blessing of bread and wine is to be a “remembrance of me”‘… an homage to Jesus and a declaration of or faith in his accomplished work. This blessing is not a blessing of food to nourish our bodies. Our food nourishes or bodies whether we bless it or not. Unbelievers get nourished by food with no connection to God at all. This blessing of bread and wine is not a blessing of “simple, common food”. It is a much greater act or event. It is our declaration of faith and acceptance of his revelations as truth. In essence we declare god as our father.
    We declare that we can’t reason a better explanation of truth. We believe in God.
    Notice that Jesus himself blessed the bread and the cup. And when we pay to bless “the bread and the cup” we ask Jesus to bless it. It is therefore imperative that we understand that this blessing of food is to convert common food into “his flesh and blood” (literal or symbolic).
    When we eat beans and rice or hamburgers and French fries we are not partaking of the Lord’s supper.

  11. Jesus was our model of life here on earth, he gave thanks for the food in more places than the one place in the old covenant deut 8:10. Besides we are to always before after and forever give thanks and praise to our Father.

  12. To bless is to confer or invoke divine favor upon. Therefore, we as man simply cannot bless God. Only God dishes out the blessings. We should be thankful for what God has given us, thus.. saying a prayer prior to consuming food.

  13. Growing up as a child we said this pray before all meals whenever, wherever we were eating and drinking and I still say it to this day: For what I am about to receive, may the Lord make me truly thankful, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

  14. KJV Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
    (What I gather from this verse is that the believers in those times got together daily in the temple to pray and then whoever’s turn it was to host the fellowship party, they went to that person’s house and ate and drank with gladness so prayer came before eating. If I’m understanding this wrong, someone please explain. Thanks.)

    • Good thoughts. But notice that though the verse mentions that the disciples “did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” or even if it was rendered “thankfulness of heart,” it doesn’t say anything about blessing before or after. So they may or may not have prayed for their food before or after the meal. But all we have is what scripture says, and as a rule we should draw out the meaning based on what it does say, not read into the meaning and say it means something it doesn’t actually say.

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  16. If you read scripture it tells you bluntly put attic God is already blessed ssj God and Jesus are the same Jesus bless the food already every food he made he’s already blessed it read scripture and Ice God to give you a better understanding we should thank God for providing the food because he is the provider the word say give him thanks that he provided the food and the means to have food Amen brother

  17. Am glad for this controversial discussion. I will like to state 3 attitude a Christian or Christians should follow during meal to balance biblical concept.

    1. Thank God for your meal.

    2. Pray for your meal, speak to your meal to posses healing power and nourishment value cos sometime our food lacks nutrients but via prayers such food will carry virtue to repair warm out cells by faith in us.

    3. finally thank God for the food, for many had die while eating but you finished yours by mercy. praise the Lord.❤

  18. I think what people are missing about this topic is that the Bible doesn’t make a clear command that we should “bless our food.” It does say we should do all things in Jesus name, that we should be thankful in all things, that we should give thanks in all things through Jesus, things like these. So it’s not wrong to thank God for your food, or to ask Him to bless your food, or to do it before or after. It would do more help than harm if we went ahead and did both! But let’s not act like the Bible commands one of these specific practices regarding meals. It simply isn’t there in the scriptures.

  19. Jesus did bless and separately give thanks for the loaves and fishes before distributing it. That would not be blessing God, but the actual food. Other than that, Alma said we should pray over ALL things…crops, servants, family, jobs, etc. I’m sure food is included, though not specifically asking a blessing upon it…or to make the food holy. I believe giving thanks for food is something any Christian should do, but asking a blessing upon it (“God, make this food holy, nourishing, stengthening to us, etc…”) is repetitious prayer, redundant, and a ‘cultural’ thing that gives false doctrine creep in the church.

  20. The sole objective of our life is to become holy, ” to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”, to quote Jesus. Since Jesus is The Son, it seems to me obvious that He would render thanks to His Father for all that the Father gave Him, regardless that Jesus is God, co-equal and co-eternal to His Father-Who-is-God.
    In the O.T. God made respect of one’s parents a commandment, and giving thanks is one way we show our respect and our love for our parents. Christ is the perfect Son who also taught us that He had not come to demolish the (Mosaic) Law but to bring it to completion; He said not one ‘jot or tittle’ would be removed from the Law. Therefore Christ Himself fulfilled perfectly the 4th commandment at every moment of His life, including giving thanks to God, His (and our) Father, for the gifts given in the natural world, including food and drink at mealtimes.
    I think we would all feel that a child who just gorged his food without giving a thought to the parents who put it on the table was rude, insensitive, basically a selfish brute.
    In conclusion, the argument about whether to bless and give thanks because food is already one of God’s blessings on us seems to be missing the point. Imitation of Christ, our perfect exemplar, will lead us into greater holiness.

  21. Giving thanks with gratitude is always good. As well as the food being sanctified so you don’t get sick from it! Pray over food or don’t. But for me, in today’s world and what their putting in food, I’ll continue to pray over it!

    1Ti 4:3  men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.
    1Ti 4:4  For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;
    1Ti 4:5  for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

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