Saying Grace

William V. Beasley
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

The age old and righteous custom of offering a prayer of thanksgiving unto God, the source of all blessings, before meals, seems to be diminishing. This is true even among the saints of God. What preacher or elder has not been invited out and asked to "say grace," only to learn from their behavior that the children are more accustomed to digging right in?

The expression, "saying grace," for giving of thanks is an acceptable use of the word "grace" (Gr., charis). Joseph H. Thayer (Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 666) gives as the fourth definition, "thanks (for benefits, services, favors)..." More important, we see just such usage in God's word- "If I partake with thankfulness (If I by grace partake -- marginal reading) why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore Ye eat, or drink . . ." (I Cor. 10: 3031).

It is hard to understand the one who ignores God until the preacher or elder is present, and then puts on a show of piety. Besides failing to teach their children to be thankful for their daily food "which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth" (I Tim. 4:3; see also I Thess. 5:8; Matt. 14:19; Acts 27:35), they are teaching their children to play the hypocrite, to deceive (lie) by their actions. Better to be unthankful and honest than to be both unthankful and dishonest. Better still is the man who is thankful to God and honest with man.

Some parents go one step farther by asking their progeny to say the prayer when the child has not even been accustomed to hearing a prayer. Consider the mother who called upon her son to lead the prayer and urged him on with, "just say what you have heard mommy say." Imagine her consternation when he bowed his little head and very seriously repeated, "Lord, why did I invite so many people -- here on such a hot day?"

February 24, 1972