Gathering Around Grace: Turning Table Prayer Into A Powerful Pause

Author: Bo Stern | | @bolovesjoe


"Isn't a meal together the most beautiful expression of our desire to be given to each other in our brokenness? The table, the food, the drinks, the stories: Are they not the most intimate ways in which we express the desire to give our lives to each other, but also to do this in actuality?" - Henri Nouwen




"Prayer is a divine pause in an ordinary date. It’s taking a breath to let heaven seep in. It’s all things beautiful. And we are better for it."

Bo Stern


My beloved and I are in a love-hate relationship with our long-distance relationship. We hate that we miss each other so much; but we love that we appreciate each moment we have together so much.  


Cliff lives in Portland, I live in Bend.  That’s a seven-hour round trip travel investment just to be together.  It’s worth it, but we can only pull it off about twice each month. Since our time together is so special to us, we always prioritize gathering around good food.  We each live in cities with great restaurants, so we’ve dated really well (and we each have some extra lbs to show for it, but that’s another post for another day.)  


Our food choices vary wildly, from southern comfort food to amazing steakhouses to fancy French to my sordid, secret love, but my favorite part of every date is the same: The prayer.  


Prayer with Cliff has become sacred to me.  It’s a moment when we reach across the table, and…remember.  We remember that we are truly together in a fragmented world. We remember that we are so blessed to share good food and good wine in a beautiful city.  But mostly, we remember that we are wholly and unconditionally loved by Jesus and that He is constantly restoring and rebuilding our broken lives. It’s holy and reverent and romantic and, though we never pray more than a minute, we’re usually both a mess of tears by the Amen.  


It’s a divine pause in an ordinary date. It’s taking a breath, to let heaven seep in. It’s all things beautiful. And we are better for it.


I say all of this to say: “Saying Grace” has become mundane and meaningless in most of our society - but it is a thing of beauty if we’ll stop to absorb it.  It’s the moment when we truly remember His goodness and life and remember that WE are alive.  

It’s eucharist.

It’s gift.

It’s grace.


And now I have a question:  Were you raised saying grace around the table?  Did you have one that you said always?  A song you sang?   I'm fascinated by table traditions and would love to hear about yours in the comments below!  

With hope, 




Whitney Parnell5 Comments