Prayer and the Family Meal

7 Fresh Ideas for Mealtime Prayer

by Tom McGrath, Bret Nicholaus

Committing to gathering regularly, if not daily, for a shared meal is a great way to strengthen your family and to learn how to pray together. We might always say a traditional prayer. In doing so, we are also unified with our larger family, the Catholic Church, whose members have uttered the same or similar phrases for years upon years. Said thoughtfully, it resonates. Even on those days when we zip to the finish, it makes a point—God is with us, and we thank him.

But if you find prayer becoming habit over heart, there are ways to be more mindful at mealtime. Here are a few different approaches to spicing up the prayer portion of your family meals.

  1. Have family members take turns leading the prayer each day. You might start with a petition, praise to God—whatever the leader chooses.

  2. Sing the traditional prayer—let your child improvise the melody.

  3. Institute a moment of silence. St. Thérèse of Lisieux described prayer as “a simple look turned toward heaven.”

  4. Ask each member to say one thing he or she is grateful for that day.

  5. Expand on the previous exercise by having each person at the table quickly answer these questions: What are you grateful for? What do you want to ask God for? What are you sorry for today? Whom did you help?

  6. Read a poem or Scripture passage that gives thanks to God. Perhaps you can even find positive lyrics in a song from pop culture to engage your children

  7. Of course, it’s always good for your children to know the standard meal blessings:

Before Meals

After Meals

The Meal Box

By Bret Nicholaus and Tom McGrath
Pass the salt and pepper–along with The Meal Box. Creatively fun questions combined with helpful family faith tips spice up every mealtime conversation. 54 cards in plastic case.

Tom McGrath

Tom McGrath

Tom McGrath is a spiritual director in the Ignatian tradition, as well as a writer and speaker whose mission is to help people experience a taste of the Divine.

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Bret Nicholaus

Bret Nicholaus

Bret Nicholaus is the coauthor of the national best-selling question book The Conversation Piece (over 200,000 copies sold), as well as more than a dozen other books designed to get people talking.

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