Can’t You Be Grateful Without ‘Saying Grace’?
A recent post about my mixed feelings on saying grace in public led to an interesting response from a reader. So let me explore this on one more level.
A few weeks back, I described having dinner at a restaurant with someone who insisted on saying grace, claiming that if we weren’t “ashamed” of God, He wouldn’t be ashamed of us.
I suggested that was a silly thing to worry about, since God loved us enough to sacrifice His son for us on a cross ahead of any transgression we might ever make. How can a God who loves us that much, I asked, suddenly become ashamed of us over one prayer?
I also pointed out a Bible passage from Matthew 6 which specifically instructs people to “go away by yourself, all alone, and shut the door behind you and pray to your Father secretly.” The verse says that when you do so, “your Father, who knows your secrets, will reward you.”
But one of my readers, Suzy, said, in part, this: “You kinda missed the idea of being thankful for your food!”
It’s not that I missed that idea. I am thankful for my food, even if I don’t take the time right that minute to say so. But I appreciated her comment because it told me I may not have explained my case as well as I should have.
I believe that God hands down blessings all day long.
Sometimes, He hands us blessings that I think we don’t even recognized as such. Maybe it’s the promotion we were just so sure we were going to get that ended up going to someone else. Or maybe it’s the medical diagnosis we were hoping against. Or a financial situation that knocks our plans back a peg or two.
We can’t know — because we don’t see the “bigger picture” God sees — that on the morning our car breaks down, we might otherwise have been hit by a drunk driver if things had worked as expected. That’s just one example, but for those of us who believe God is all-knowing and we are not, it’s the kind of scenario that has to make sense.
Sometimes what we see as a terrible thing might be the start of a path to something much better than we imagined. That’s the nature of Him being God and us having a more smaller, limited view of the grand scheme of things.
Is delayed thanks really ungratefulness?
The other day, I sent a relative a birthday card. He called me after he had opened the card and seen the gift to thank me for it.
I wasn’t offended.
But by the logic of people who insist you must pray, wherever you are, before the meal, even if it’s out in public, I should have been offended.
Comparing the two scenarios, you’re expected to pray before you even taste the food or you’re not grateful. But he wanted until I after he opened the card and saw the gift to express gratitude.
Would anyone really think he was less appreciative because he waited?
I certainly wouldn’t.
At night, before I go to sleep, I say a quick prayer — and sometimes a not-so-quick prayer thanking God for the many blessings He provides. I don’t bother listing them because, honestly, I don’t think I could ever sufficiently list the ones I see as such, and as I’ve already said, I’d miss “blessings” that might not, at that point, seem to me to actually be blessings.
But I recognized that I am blessed in various ways and I express gratitude for those ways.
Would God really think I was any less appreciative if I make that regular time at the end of my day to pause and say thank you?
If I were God, I can’t imagine that I would. I’d already know what is in my heart, after all, and I’d see that thankfulness before it was ever expressed in words.
I don’t mean to imply that I think saying grace isn’t important. But I do think being grateful is far more important.
The delay of the former does not necessarily indicate a lack of the latter.