Dear 100 Hour Board,
Why do we pray over our food? Maybe I have a bad memory, but I can't recall this ever being taught in church, Conference, or specifically in scripture (though I'm aware there are scriptures that can be used to support it). Not that it's a bad thing to do, but given how ingrained it is into LDS and general Christian life, I'm curious.
-Please bless these doughnuts...
I'd never really thought about this until my friend Flor brought it up. She prays at the beginning of each meal, but she doesn't ask that the food be blessed because she says that nowhere in the scriptures does it ask us to.
Whether or not it's a commandment, it is a Christian tradition, and looking at the Wikipedia article on Grace (as in "saying grace") confirms some of my thoughts and feelings on the matter. If you look at the list of typical Christian grace prayers, you'll see that some ask God to bless the food (including the hilariously stereotypical one for the LDS church) and others don't, but nearly all of them express some measure of gratitude or thanksgiving. That's the attitude I've tried to develop toward saying meal prayers since talking to Flor; I try to focus more on gratitude. We are encouraged to ask God to "give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11), so it seems fitting that we thank Him when those prayers are answered.
I don't think it's an inherently bad idea to ask for a blessing on the food; despite my changed focus, I still include that in my prayers. I just wouldn't make it the focal point of the prayer or in any way rely on it to save me from poor nutrition choices.
Dear Double Pre-Blessed,
I've asked this question for years, and the best response I've heard is from Alma 34:17-27, where Amulek encourages us to pray for our livelihood, with multiple examples. Verse 21 reads, "Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening," and verse 24 reads, "Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them." The point of this, according to Amulek, is to remember that we are absolutely dependent on God, both physically and spiritually. That might be somewhat related to praying before meals, although not explicitly so.
I think the tradition to pray before meals is a good one, but I don't see a reason to treat it as a commandment.