Praying before meals can feel strange, particularly when its in public. If you've been out to eat with Christians, you're probably familiar with the awkward silence that often descends upon the table when the first plates of food arrive. English professor Alan Noble knows all about it:
The idea of a server waiting while my family prays over a meal makes me feel self-conscious and guilty, as if I were imposing my religion on them. I don’t want anyone around me to feel uncomfortable watching and listening to me pray. Besides, I tell myself, does it even matter if I pray for the food? I paid for it. I know I’m grateful. And I’m in a hurry. Isn’t the necessity of saying grace just legalism—empty ritual that actually makes me less grateful?
But what if the "empty ritual" of our prayers isn't actually that empty? Read this article from Alan Noble for a measured appreciation of this formative Christian practice. For more, check out Noble's great book Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age.