“God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. Amen.” It’s unclear where this traditional mealtime prayer began, but it does express an important sentiment. We are to give thanks for everything we have, knowing that every single blessing comes from God Himself.
In our Scripture reading today, we see that crowds following Jesus were enormous (v. 2). Talk had spread about His miraculous signs of healing the sick. People had come from all over to witness more. When the disciples considered the best way to feed the thousands of people gathered to hear and see Jesus, the apostle Andrew stepped forward with an innovative plan. He volunteered a boy’s small lunch as a solution to their problem. Jesus accepted the five small rolls and a couple of fish the size of sardines, gave thanks, distributed the food, and multiplied it to satisfy all the people.
What we sometimes miss in this story is that Jesus stopped to pray and give thanks. We remember the crowd, the miracle, the disciples, but how often do we wonder about Jesus’ prayer? For whom exactly was Jesus thankful? For the boy who gave up his lunch? For the apostle Andrew who had come up with the inventive idea? Or perhaps for the boy’s mother who remembered to pack a lunch for her son?
The text doesn’t tell, but from what we know about the prayers of Jesus, we can be sure to whom Jesus gave thanks: God the Father. Jesus paused and thanked the Father before that hillside meal, just as He did when He passed the wine and bread during His last supper before His death. We too can give thanks, remembering that God is great and God is good. Thank Him for the food that sustains us and even more, for His sacrifice that gives us life.
Do you pray before meals? If not, try pausing today to give thanks before you eat. If you do have a regular prayer time, perhaps extend it by thanking God for the many provisions in your life. Pray for those around the world who hunger for physical and spiritual food. Allow your mealtime prayers to be a reminder to give thanks.