“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” Deuteronomy 8:10
If you’ve been involved in Christianity for more that two weeks, you’ve probably sat around the dinner table with other Christians and prayed before you ate. This is a good practice, for reminds us that God is the source of all the good things in our life. However, I think our practice of praying before a meal can become nothing more than a religious habit, especially when we are in the presence of other Christians. To be honest, the only time I ever pray over a meal is when I’m with someone else. Otherwise, I just jump right in and eat.
Although I believe that gratitude for the gifts of God needs to be a 24/7 attitude, I find I’m usually grateful on a ½ /1 basis. That is, about a half hour one day a week. Then I go and stumble upon Deuteronomy 8:10 and I feel like a worm.
Deuteronomy is the farewell address of Moses to the Israelites. Deuteronomy means “repetition of the law,” since God gave all the commandments to Moses at Mt. Sinai in the first year of the Exodus. Since most parents get really serious when they repeat something to their children, I figure God was very intentional about helping us learn the lessons found in this book.
Deuteronomy 8 is God’s reminder that we are to remain in an attitude of gratitude, and He encourages us not to forget that He brought us out of our desperate situation and into a place of abundance. God commands us to give thanks after we have eaten, otherwise “your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God” (8:14). Moses goes on to warn, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (8:17).
It’s the “after” part that I keep stumbling over. I’m usually grateful after a big ordeal, like just missing getting in a car accident or finding out I got an “A” on a big exam. However, I’m not so thankful after the little things, like a simple lunch, or a warm home, or a car that gets me to work. I worked hard for those things, so….so I just forgot that it is God who gives me the ability to produce wealth. How easily I slip into thinking my life is entirely of my making.
I also noticed that God doesn’t say to thank Him for the meal we just ate, but for the good land He has given us. The principle is to be grateful for the entire supply of God’s goodness, not just the meal we just consumed. Thanking Him for the land, and not just the meal, is to be grateful for all His provisions: job, house, family and nation. It is a remembrance of the fact He brought us out of a land of sin and slavery and into a place of milk (abundant livestock) and honey (plenteous and sweet fruit and orchards).
In light of this passage, I’m developing a new prayer. “Lord, help me to thank You for all Your goodness before AND after I have enjoyed them. And if I forget to thank You, I’m asking You to remind me. It may take a while, but I want to make thankfulness a 24/7 habit. Amen.”
It is so easy to take things for granted – especially here in the states. There is so much that is out of our control that we must remember to thank God for all things. This is such a good reminder to do that!
Yes, we’re the richest country in the world and spend most of our time complaining we don’t have enough. Ouch!
I think that this piece of scripture is very Native American in its direction to see the bigger picture. But I do think that you’re right, we take much for granted, and tend to mindlessly parrot things like grace before meals. I was particularly bothered by the Pledge of Allegiance when I was in school, in that everyone would stand, glaze over, and mumble the memorized words. So, I first stopped saying it, and then I sat, instead of standing. It’s odd to see the effect that breaking a cycle can have on others. At first, my peers were theorizing that I’d get into trouble. But why, I asked? It’s not a law, not an edict. It’s something we’re asked to do, to remind ourselves of the nature of our nation. Hmmm. 15 years later, I’m not sure if anyone got it, but I guess I could have made a bigger deal out of it.
Good morning. A very notable observation on how too often we become “religious” in our behaviors. While we are indeed called to be thankful in all things, too often prayer can become a ritual as “something that we do at this time.”
May the Lord teach us to be truly thankful in everything and to worship him always.
Have a blessed day in Jesus.
I think our habits and behaviors become a religion when we forget that God is the center of why and what we are doing, and we see our doing as the center. There is nothing wrong with rituals, as long as we are truly remembering God in those rituals. I want to remember, recall and rejoice in God for everything I am doing, and thank Him before, during and after what ever thing I’ve done. Of course, if I can’t do that, then perhaps I shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. But that idea I’ll save for another blog.
Thanks for stopping by.
“The principle is to be grateful for the entire supply of God’s goodness…” I like that. Thank you for the reminder of how BIG God is.
You are welcome.
You misquoted verse 8:12 which reads “lest you eat and shall be satisfied, and build lovely houses and shall dwell in them”, and not “your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God”.
Also, I would suggest that you be careful using the word LORD as it has a specific pagan reference in Hebrew. Other than that, I’m glad you shared Deuteronomy 8:10 – I never saw it quite that way, but you’ve helped me realize why th Jewish faith has prayers of thanksgiving after meals. They have been diligent in following all of the Torah…in many ways they’re a good example to the rest of us.
I appreciate you showing me the error on my quote. I changed it in the text, as it should have been Deuteronomy 8:14. It is always good to have readers who will check up on me, for I can certainly use it!
As for using the word LORD, I really don’t know what other word to use. By quoting Deut. 8:10 in the NIV, I used their translation of YHWH, which is LORD. Had I quoted the Chumash or the Tanach, I would have used HASHEM. However, by using HASHEM, I would have confused the majority of my readers, who are neither Hebrew nor Torah observant. I could have quoted The Message, which uses God. At least I didn’t use Young’s Literal Translations, which reads, “Jehovah they God.” Since I am not a Biblical language specialist, I must rely upon those who are more learned than I am in these matters.
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