5 Practical Reasons Why Your Family Should Pray at Dinner


After almost two years of blogging, I don’t know most people who read my posts.  I don’t know whether you believe in God or not. You may have a faith radically different from mine or no faith at all. So perhaps today’s post will feel irrelevant or stray. However, since I write about family life so often, I wanted to share one of my absolute FAVORITE family activities: praying together during dinner. Seriously.

We’re like the Robertsons on Duck Dynasty (no beards) who always say grace. Maybe this seems odd, but there’s a reason Christian, Jewish, Muslim, all kinds of families maintain this tradition…it’s awesome! No matter your faith background, praying is an unbelievable bonding time for Team Phenix, and I’d encourage you to incorporate this practice with your “team.”

Here’s “why” and a touch of “how” you can do this too!

1. Shows gratitude

Gratitude is a posture of humility. When you thank God for supplying your meal, you’re acknowledging the gift in front of you. I want the kids to realize we shouldn’t take food for granted since so many people go without. We aren’t entitled to have a hot meal together, so humility is the proper position of the heart.

A side benefit of being thankful for our food is we are less likely to complain about the peas or broccoli!

2. Establishes a starting point for the meal

When prayer begins, everything else ends. Call this a Pavlovian habit, but immediately before we say grace, there’s a scramble to put everything away. Books go off the table, iElectronics disappear, calls are ignored, and we stay in our chairs. Not only does this help us focus on each other, it shows respect for the hard-working cook (ahem!) when you wait to begin.

3. Encourages reflection

Before we pray, Billy always picks a topic and we spend a minute thinking about what to say.  Usually the structure of our prayers is to 1) Express gratitude for our food and 2) Say a couple of sentences on a "theme."

Typical topics include praying for…

  • Someone in the family
  • A friend from school
  • A neighbor
  • A family from The Christmas Box
  • Something you need help with
  • Someone who is sad
  • A challenge you face

Usually this means we have to sit for a minute or two and think about others. In the non-stop day of taking care of ourselves, it feels great to put someone else's perspective ahead of our own.

4. Expands conversation

After we pray, it’s not uncommon to talk about what we prayed for. One time Billy prayed for a co-worker who was “sad,” and my daughter had to know what was going on. We had a long conversation about why this person was sad and how we could help.  Another time I prayed about being making a mistake at work and the kids wanted to know what I had done.  Often we learn about the kids' challenges with friends because they ask God for help.

I’m consistently surprised at the insights we have because of prayer time.

5. Creates a habit of talking to God

Perhaps the best thing about our quick prayer time is how it settles us down and helps us think about talking to God.  Even if you’re not clear on your faith, prayer is a step in working it out, and, best of all, you can work it out with your family.

Do you pray at your meals? How does it enrich your family time?