My family served lunch at our local soup kitchen last month. I leave there with something each time we serve there: a new or better understanding of the plight of those who depend on the soup kitchen for their meal; a renewed appreciation of the blessings I so often take for granted; a heightened respect for those who so faithfully serve our homeless community; and a desire to do more to serve where God has placed me are but a few of the things I’ve taken away from the soup kitchen over the years.
Last month, I received the most amazing and unexpected gift.
Once we’re prepared the lunch plates and those who were eating had been invited in and seated, the fella in charge that day welcomed everyone. He thanked us for providing the meal and for giving our time to serve it. Then he announced that it was time to bless the food. He’d prayed with us multiple times already that morning…long rambling prayers that one would expect from someone who depends on the Lord daily for every little physical thing. He prayed prayers of thanksgiving for the food we’d prepared. He prayed prayers of protection for our family and the others who served that day. He prayed for God’s blessings to rain down on our lives. So, you can imagine my surprise…no, my SHOCK, when he began to bless the food…
“God is Great, God is Good…”
I am ashamed to say that my immediate thought was “WHAT?!?!? Are you kidding me?”
I instantly remembered teaching my children to pray “Dear God thank you for the hot dogs (or whatever we were eating)” because I couldn’t STAND this prayer….
All these thoughts hit me in a matter of seconds and then, just as quickly, I was drawn back to the blessing being asked in that moment at the soup kitchen…
God is great
And we THANK Him
for our food.
By HIS hands
we ALL are fed
THANK YOU GOD
for DAILY bread
I was left breathless. A more perfect blessing has never been asked. In that room, surrounded by people who depended on the soup kitchen to fill their stomachs once a day, I gained an appreciation for that simple little blessing that every toddler and preschooler knows.
I have spent much time since that day considering how many of my prayers, though wordy, are no more than
How many of my prayers are rushed? How many weeks have I prayed more in public than in private? How many times have I prayed because it was expected, but my mind (and heart) were a million miles away from God?
Jesus says this:
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:5-8 (NIV)
I learn so much from the people God puts in my path. Last month I understood what I’ve read in Matthew more times than I can count:
“Don’t pray so that people will be impressed”
“Don’t babble when you pray”
“Do (most of) your praying in private”
Pray with me?
Forgive me. Forgive me for the rushed, thoughtless and meaningless prayers I have haphazardly offered over the years. Thank you for this beautiful reminder of the power of the simplest of prayers. Help me to focus my heart and my mind on you and you alone when I pray. You ARE great and you ARE good and I THANK you for the many many ways you give me exactly what I need each day.