I once heard, I'm not sure where or from whom, about a particular group who prayed AFTER a meal was eaten. We as Christians seem to always pray BEFORE a meal, so the thought of praying afterward intrigued me when it came to mind again recently. I seem to recall the point being to show God gratitude for the gift received... Now that you've eaten the food, to give Him thanks for it.
I thought the custom mentioned might have been Jewish, and a quick Google search tonight led me to an article on Wikipedia on Birkat Hamazon, a particular type of prayer after meals involving some types of bread. Wikipedia says the custom is based on Deuteronomy 8:10: "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you." The prayer is actually made up of four blessings of thanks: for the food, for the land of Israel, for Jerusalem, and for God's goodness. You can read the whole article here, it's pretty interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkat_Hamazon
So, the thought of showing gratitude to God not just before a meal, but after had been bouncing about my head today. I realized after eating most of my dinner that I hadn't, so I said a quick and probably not very sincere prayer to God of thanks. And shortly thereafter, I heard my mom calling from the kitchen. And it didn't sound like good news.
Running to the room, she said someone was bleeding, and there were small tracks of blood across the entire kitchen floor. We quickly found our dog Tyson had an injured paw, bleeding not heavily but well enough to be scary. Something didn't seem right about the way the paw looked... one nail was oddly bent. My dad and brothers were quickly involved, we were trying to stop the bleeding, call the vet, clean up the floor, and I found myself praying a quick, probably not very sincere prayer that God would help this poor little dog and that everything would be okay.
Well, we took a trip to our wonderful veterinarian, who opened her door for us on a Saturday night and bandaged up his paw. God willing, the little guy will be okay, and he was romping around the house again by evening's end. Which was about when I realized...
I never thanked God for answering my prayer and bringing him home safely.
So very often, I pray to God before a meal, but I don't think to thank Him after it's done. And when an emergency arises, I most usually go to Him in prayer (with varying levels of sincerity, but still I do). But then I don't often thank Him afterward. I am thoroughly lacking when it comes to gratitude in my life, in little things and in big. So close on the heels of Thanksgiving, can we be thankful... even after the meal is over?
What are your thoughts on gratitude?