Prayer at a Communal Fellowship Meal
The Lord’s Supper: a Holy Meal
The first century church celebrated the Lord’s Supper each Lord’s Day as a sacred, covenant feast (the Agapé). It was an actual meal centered around one cup and one loaf. This holy meal was the main reason for the weekly gathering of the church and was a wonderful time of fellowship and edification.
When partaken of as an actual feast in a joyful, wedding atmosphere, the Lord’s Supper typifies the wedding supper of the Lamb and thus has a strong forward looking aspect to it. The bread and wine are symbolic of Jesus’ body and blood and also serve to remind Jesus of His promise to return and eat of the meal again with us.
In addition, using a single cup and loaf not only symbolize the oneness of the church, but God also uses it to create unity within a body of believers. Another major benefit of celebrating the Supper as a holy banquet is the fellowship and encouragement that each member experiences.
It is a primary means of edifying the church during the Sunday gathering.
The Proof: Its Form (A Feast) And Its Focus (The Future)
According to Fritz Reinecker, “The Passover celebrated two events, the deliverance from Egypt and the anticipated coming Messianic deliverance.” Jesus turned the Passover Feast into the Lord’s Supper, which also has both a backward and a forward looking aspect.
The church looks back to Jesus’ sacrifice as the ultimate Passover Lamb, delivering His people from their sins. One reason Jesus gave for partaking of the cup is because He would “not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Lk 22:18).
Every time we partake of the cup, Jesus’ promise to return and drink it again with us should be brought to mind. Thus, the Lord’s Supper also looks forward to its fulfillment in the wedding supper of the Lamb.What better way to typify a banquet than with a banquet? Celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly as a full fellowship meal is rehearsal dinner before a wedding.
His future wedding banquet was much on our Lord’s mind during the Last Supper. Jesus first mentioned it at the beginning of the Passover feast when He said, “I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God” (Lk 22:16).
He mentioned it a second time when passing the cup, saying, “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Lk 22:18). After the supper Jesus referred to the banquet yet again, saying, “I confer on you a kingdom . . .
so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Lk 22:29-30).
The most extensive treatment of the Lord’s Supper is found in 1 Corinthians 10-11. Class divisions between Corinthian believers resulted in their Lord’s Supper meetings doing more harm than good (11:17-18).
They were guilty of partaking of the Supper in an “unworthy manner” (11:27). The wealthier among them, not wanting to eat with those of a lower social class, evidently came to the gathering so early and remained there so long that some became drunk.
Making matters worse, by time the working class believers arrived, delayed perhaps by employment constraints, all the food had been eaten. The poor went home hungry (11:21-22).
Some of the Corinthians failed to recognize the Supper as a sacred, covenant meal and they failed to esteem their impoverished brethren as equal parts of the body of Christ (11:23-32).
It is evident the Corinthian church partook of the Lord’s Supper as a full meal. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church some twenty years after Jesus turned His Last Supper into our Lord’s Supper.The Last Supper was a full meal and so too the Corinthians understood the Lord’s Supper to be a true meal.
Where would they have gotten the idea of celebrating the Lord’s Supper as a true banquet if not from the apostles themselves?
The inspired solution to the Corinthian abuse of the Supper was not to cease eating it as an actual meal. Instead, Paul wrote “when you come together to eat, wait for each other.” Only those so famished or undisciplined or selfish that they could not wait for the others are instructed to “eat at home” (1Co 11:34).
1.) Reminding Jesus
The Lord’s Supper is arguably the sign of the new covenant. As Jesus took the cup He said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28).
The purpose of any sign is to serve as a reminder of covenant promises. Thus Jesus said we are to partake of the bread “in remembrance of Me” (Lk 22:19). The Greek word translated “remembrance,” anamnesis, means “reminder.
” Literally translated, Jesus said, “do this unto my reminder.”
Is the reminder is primarily for Jesus’ benefit or ours? Joachim Jeremias understood Jesus to use anamnesis in the sense of a reminder for God, “The Lord’s Supper would thus be an enacted prayer.
” In The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, he argued that the Greek underlying the word “until” (1Co 11:26, achri hou) is not simply a temporal reference, but functions as a kind of final clause.
The meal’s function is as a constant reminder to God to bring about the Second Coming.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:26, confirms this by stating that the church, in eating the Lord’s Supper, is to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” To whom do we proclaim His death and why? Arguably, it is proclaimed it to the Lord Himself as a reminder for Him to return. The normal Greek for until (heos hutou) merely denotes a time frame.
For example, I might say that I will use an umbrella “until” it stops raining, merely denoting a time frame. (Using the umbrella has nothing to do with causing the rain to stop). However, this is not how “until’ is used in 1 Corinthians 11:26. The Greek behind “until” in 1 Corinthians 11:26 is achri hou.
Reinecker points out that as it is used here it denotes much more than a mere time frame; grammatically it can denote a goal or an objective. Paul was instructing the church to partake of the bread and cup as a means of proclaiming the Lord’s death (as a reminder) until (with the goal of persuading) Him to come back! Thus, in proclaiming His death through the loaf and cup, the Supper looked forward to and anticipated His return.
2.) Creating Unity
The bread and the wine serve as representations of the body and blood of our Lord. His propitiatory death on the cross is the very foundation of the Lord’s Supper. Just as the form of the Lord’s Supper is important (a full fellowship meal that prefigured the wedding banquet of the Lamb), also important is the form of the bread and cup.Mention is made in Scripture of the cup of thanksgiving (a single cup) and of only one loaf: “Because there is one loaf, we who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1Co 10:16-17).
The one loaf not only pictures our unity in Christ, but according to 1 Corinthians 10:17 it may even create unity! Notice carefully the wording of the inspired text. “Because” there is one loaf, therefore we are one body, “for” we all partake of the one loaf (1Co 10:17).
Partaking of a pile of broken cracker crumbs and multiple cups of juice is a picture of disunity, division, and individuality. It completely misses the imagery of unity. One scholar wrote that Lord’s Supper was “intended as means of fostering the unity of the church . . .”
In the book of Acts we learn that the early church devoted themselves to “fellowship in the breaking of bread” (2:42, literal translation). In many English versions there is an “and” between “teaching” and “fellowship” and between “bread” and “prayer” but not between “fellowship” and “bread” (Ac 2:42).
This is because in some Greek manuscripts the words “fellowship” and “breaking of bread” are linked together as simultaneous activities. They had fellowship with one another as they broke bread together. Luke further informs us that this eating was done with “glad and sincere hearts” (2:46).
Sounds inviting, doesn’t it? It was also the opinion of F.F. Bruce that in Acts 2, the fellowship enjoyed was expressed practically in the breaking of bread.
Bruce further held that the phrase “breaking of bread” denotes “something more than the ordinary partaking of food together: the regular observance of the Lord’s Supper is no doubt indicated . . . this observance appears to have formed the part of an ordinary meal.”
Its Frequency: Weekly
Early believers ate the Lord’s Supper weekly as the main purpose for their coming together as a church each Lord’s Day. In Acts 20:7, Luke informs, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” The words “to break bread” in Acts 20:7 reflect what is known as a telic infinitive. It denotes a purpose or objective. Their meeting was a meating!
Another place the New Testament states the purpose for a church gathering is 1 Corinthians 11:17-22. Their “meetings” (11:17) were doing more harm than good because when they came “together as a church” (11:18a) they had deep divisions.
Thus Paul wrote, “when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat” (11:20). From this it is obvious that the stated reason for their church meetings was to eat the Lord’s Supper.Sadly, their abuses of the Supper were so gross that it had ceased being the Lord’s Supper, but the fact remains that they ostensibly were gathering each week to celebrate the Supper.
The third and last reference to the reason for an assembly is found in 1 Corinthians 11:33, “When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” As before, it shows that the reason they came together was to eat. Lest this appear to be making much little, it must be realized that no other reason is ever given in the Scriptures as to the purpose of a regular, weekly church meeting.
In summary, the Lord’s Supper is the primary purpose for which the church is to gather each Lord’s Day. Eaten as a full meal, the Supper typifies the wedding supper of the Lamb and thus has a forward looking component.
It is to be partaken of as a feast, in a joyful, wedding atmosphere rather than in a somber, funeral atmosphere. A major benefit of the Supper as a banquet is the fellowship and encouragement each member experiences.
Within the context of this full meal, there is to be one cup and one loaf from which all partake. One single loaf is to be used, not only to symbolize the unity of a body of believers, but also because God will use it to create unity within a body of believers.
The bread and wine are also symbolic of Jesus’ body and blood and serve to remind Jesus of His promise to return and eat of the meal again with His church (Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!).
— Steve Atkerson
Revised 04/21/14 Fritz Reinecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1980), p. 207.  Colin Brown, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. III (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981) p. 244.  Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1966), p. 252-254.  Reinecker, p. 34. It is used with an aorist subjunctive verb. Other instances of this construction in eschatological passages include Luke 21:24, Romans 11:25 and 1 Corinthians 15:25.  F. F. Bruce, Acts of The Apostles (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981) p. 79.
God is Prayer: Keeping a Rule of Prayer
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Starting a rule of prayer can be quite intimidating–and keeping one quite discouraging. It helps when we understand that a rule of prayer (in Greek, κανόνας προσευχής) does not mean ‘do this or else’ or ‘follow this rule so you don’t get punished’.
Κανόνας here means a measurement, more a ruler than a rule. So a rule of prayer is a goal that we strive for each day which we believe, with the guidance of our spiritual father, is actually do-able. We are creatures of habit. Whether we are conscious of it or not we are continually developing either good or bad habits.
Developing a habit of daily personal prayer is the best way to counteract the three giants (forgetfulness, laziness, and ignorance) which continuously seek to overcome us. Conversely, we can think of our prayer rule as our ‘tithe’ each day which we offer to the Lord so that He will bless the remainder of it.
If even Jesus needed to go off alone and pray to His Father at set intervals, how much more do we need to do this as well?
When should we pray?
This is something particular to each person and their daily schedule, however, the beginning and end of each day seem to work best. The Jews would bring ‘the first fruits’ of the harvest as an offering to the temple so that the Lord would then bless the remainder of their harvest.
Similarly, we have the example of those in monastic life who arise at the very early hours of the new day to be alone with God, even before gathering together for common prayer.
By praying when we first wake up (and by making ourselves go to bed at a reasonable hour so that we will get enough rest!) we prioritize our relationship with God over any other relationship or activity. Before the cares of each day rush in we turn to the Lord and surrender it into His capable hands.At the close of each day we can thank Him for all that has come about by His Divine Providence that day; ask His forgiveness for the specific ways in which we strayed from His Holy Will for us, and raise up before Him our concerns and wishes for the morrow.
A spiritual father on the Holy Mountain once told a pilgrim, “If you pray ( specifically the Jesus Prayer) for one hour a day, in six months your life will be completely transformed.” Can we each find an hour a day to give the Lord? “I don’t have another hour in my day,” you respond.
Let’s look at it this way. The saintly bishop Gerasimos from Holy Cross in Brookline once stated simply, “We can’t give to others what we haven’t first received from God.
” In other words, we really can’t afford not to pray either if we want the Lord to bless our interactions throughout each day with others. St. John of Kronstadt even wrote in My Life In Christ that a half an hour of sincere prayer at night is worth three hours of sleep! Still not convinced? Try this.
Keep a detailed log of what you do each day for one week. Isn’t quality face-time with God more essential than all those hours of social mediating?
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Okay, how does this work?
The Lord taught us, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” The Fathers of the Church tell us that what is most essential is that our prayer is sincere and from the heart.
This doesn’t mean that we do not use prayers that others have written. It simply means that we need to focus our efforts on being real with God. Prayer starts with the lips, moves to the mind, and then moves on to the heart.
When our minds wander (which they do continuously) we gently but firmly bring our attention back to the actual words we are praying. St. John of Kronstadt said for beginners that we should listen for a corresponding “echo” of understanding with each line of a prayer.
At some point, when God wills, the prayer of the mind descends into the heart and we are more consciously aware of God’s presence and that He is communicating to us through each word. Then prayers become prayer.
What prayers should we be using?
Most good prayer rules have a combination of five sources: the prayers of the Church, the Psalter, Holy Scripture, noetic (single thought) prayer, and intercessory prayer.
We use the prayers of the Church (which are mostly taken from the Divine services) since we are never praying in isolation from the Church even when we are all alone.
These prayers, written by saints of the Church whose experience of God is more intimate than our own, act as signposts to safely guide us to approach the fearful throne of God with the right attitude.The psalms are the prayer book of the early Church and express every disposition of man in relation to God. By reading Holy Scripture, we open up our minds and hearts so the Lord can speak directly to us through the sacred texts.
We also read the writings of the Holy Fathers which are all simply insightful and pastoral commentary on Holy Scripture. Noetic or contemplative prayer is the most powerful moment in our rule fulfilling the command to, “Be still and know that I am God.” Having acquired a boldness before God we end our pray rule by raising others up in prayer as their intercessors while asking the intercessions of the saints on our behalf.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
What is our goal?
Our goal is to be vanquished by God’s love in prayer. Our goal is to remember to not just say our prayers to get them the way but to allow ourselves through prayer to be reacquainted with our Maker and Savior each day and His immeasurable love for each of us.
It is to receive our spiritual hug for the day in the Holy Spirit. We know our prayer rule is working when we don’t want to stop praying; when we feel the peace that comes from having handed our list of things that need to be accomplished that day over to Him.
Our goal is to come to the transformative realization that even the thought to pray each day is already the awakening of our soul to the mystical presence of the Lord for He is the one who initiates prayer with us by giving us each day the thought to say our prayers. In the words of St.
Gregory of Nyssa, “God is prayer,” because through prayer He takes up His abode in our hearts and rules as our King and our Lord. Come Lord Jesus!
A parish priest for twenty-two years, Fr. Theodore Petrides has served Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Stroudsburg, PA. for the past nineteen. He and Pres. Cristen have six children and two grandchildren (so far).
He regularly travels in America as well as Greece (especially the Holy Mountain), Cyprus, and the Holy Land as a pilgrim, guide, and speaker. He has also taken six work groups to Project Mexico since 1999.
He is very enthused about the staff and leadership board of OCF!
Prayer Before Meals – A Spiritual Perspective | SSRF English
- Spiritual Practice
- Prayer Before Meals – A Spiritual Perspective
In order to better understand this article we suggest you familiarise yourself with the following articles:
- Definition of prayer
- Benefits of prayer
- What are Sattva, Raja and Tama
Food is a basic necessity of life, and provides nourishment and energy for us to sustain in daily life. We are well aware of the nutritive properties of food as they are extensively researched.
The psychological satisfaction of eating something we is also known to us through personal experience.
However there have been comparatively few studies about the effects of a common practice – that of making a prayer before meals.In our fast paced lifestyle, for some of us, a prayer may seem a redundant step in our meal routine for which we have little time or patience. For others, it may be an altogether unknown experience.
To understand the effects of prayer before meals from a spiritual perspective, we conducted spiritual research using advanced sixth sense and compared what happens when we make a prayer before meals to what happens when food is eaten without praying beforehand.
2. Spiritual research on prayer before meals
The following drawing subtle-knowledge has been drawn by Mrs. Yoya Vallee, a seeker of SSRF using advanced sixth sense.
Yoya has an ability to see into the subtle and creates drawings subtle-knowledge as part of her spiritual practice and service unto the Absolute Truth (satsēvā). The drawings subtle-knowledge are then verified by His Holiness Dr. Athavale for accuracy.
This drawing subtle-knowledge shows the effect of eating without praying.
From the drawing subtle-knowledge we can understand the following:
- Divine consciousness (Chaitanya) is attracted towards the food. After consuming it, a sheath of Divine consciousness is created around the person eating it too.
- Due to a lack of prayer and communion with God before the meal, a sheath of distressing energy is created around the person. Distressing energy subsequently covers the food too and is transferred into the body while eating.
- As a result our inner organs and mind become clouded with distressing energy and a ring of distressing energy is created at the heart chakra (Anāhat-chakra) due to the ego present in eating food without prayer. This is due to the mind remaining active in the absence of prayer, which gives rise to various thoughts and extrovertedness.
Therefore when one consumes food without praying, distressing energy enters the person’s subtle-body, which can increase distress.
Along with this, if one also talks loudly while eating this increases the person’s extroverted nature which attracts even more Raja-Tama vibrations. Our energy then becomes depleted and we carry these negative vibrations around with us throughout the day.
3. Subtle-picture on the effect of prayer before meals
Now let us look at another drawing subtle-knowledge drawn by Mrs. Yoya Vallee of what happens when one prays before eating.
From this drawing subtle-knowledge we can see the following.
- Due to praying, spiritual emotion (bhāv) is awakened in the person and a communion with God is established. This attracts Divine consciousness towards both the food and the person eating it.
- Divine Energy (Shakti) is activated in the food and this reaches the person’s subtle-body and creates a protective sheath around it.
- Finally, after consuming the food, the Vital energy (Prāṇa-shakti) in our body increases.
Therefore from a spiritual perspective, prayer before meals is beneficial. The types of prayers one can make before eating are:
- “God, let this food be consumed by me with the spiritual emotion that it is Your Holy sacrament (Prasād). Let me gain Divine Energy and Divine consciousness through it.”
- “God, if there is any black energy in the food, please destroy it and infuse Divine consciousness into the food particles.”
- “God, please form a protective sheath of Your Name around me while eating.”
4. In summary – prayer before meals
Making a prayer before meals is a simple act through which we can establish communion with God, gain Divine consciousness and protection and obtain the Vital energy required for our body’s functions. It also brings continuity into our spiritual practice, which occurs even during our daily routine acts such as having meals.
There is added spiritual benefit if we complement eating with chanting the Name of God.
Christmas Dinner Prayers — Beautiful Family Blessing for the Meal & Fellowship
Christmas dinner is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends and to reflect on the joy and gratitude of the giving season. You can use this time to share the Gospel story of Jesus Christ and to guide the hearts of those gathered toward the real reason for the season.
If you are hosting the Christmas dinner, you have been given an incredible opportunity to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to tell your family and friends about the gift of eternal salvation.
As you pause to give thanks, use one of these beautiful Christmas dinner prayers before sharing a delicious meal together.
A Christmas Dinner Prayer of Rememberance
Father, we praise You for the Christmas season, and the remembrance of Jesus’ glorious birth! You remind us in Isaiah of the powerful namesake that came to earth for us. He could not be described by just one name or in one way …yet, He is the One who holds the key to our peace and our freedom.
Thank You for setting Him here to pursue us. Thank You for the traditions that we treasure enough to miss, and those that we are blessed to continue celebrating. Forgive us for revolving Christmas around anything but Jesus. Unearth the routines that threaten to trip us in pursuit of You, and open our eyes to recognize what matters the most.
Be with us this Christmas, Jesus. Open our eyes and our hearts to see you in a fresh, new way, whether in the midst of time-honored traditions or fresh new ways to celebrate Your birth. In Jesus' name, Amen.
~ Meg Bucher
A Short Christmas Dinner Prayer of Thanks
Thank you God for sending Your Son on one glorious night to be born a virgin, to live a perfect life and to die on the cross for my sins.
Thank you that he rose from the dead three days later and that this Christmas and every Christmas we can celebrate the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. We gather today to celebrate all that you have blessed us with.
May we turn our hearts toward you today and bless our time together during this meal. Amen
A Prayer for Christmas Dinnertime Fellowship
Father, Praise You for friendship and family! Thank You for bringing us together on Christmas day to share a meal. The people in our lives bring us such joy, and we are grateful for time spent in fellowship together. Thank you for the birth of your son and the gift of eternal salvation that He brings.
Help us use this time to bond closer and to learn to love each other more. Bless our appetites, both physical and spiritual, to honor You in all we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Father, today we celebrate the reality of Your presence in our lives. We celebrate Your birth, Your life, Your death, and Your resurrection. And as we celebrate, Lord, help us to be «God with skin on» to those in need around us. Open our eyes and let us see them as You see them! We love You. Happy birthday Jesus! In Jesus name, Amen.
~ Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God
A Prayer to Put Jesus First at Christmas
Dear God, Help us to keep our focus first on Christ this season. Please forgive us for giving too much time and attention on other things. Help us to reflect again, on what Christmas is really all about. Thank you that you came to give new life, peace, hope, and joy. Thank you that your power is made perfect in our weakness.
Help us to remember that the gift of Christ, Immanuel, is our greatest treasure, not just at Christmas, but for the whole year through. Fill us with your joy and the peace of your Spirit. Direct our hearts and minds towards you. Thank you for your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in seasons of brokenness, you’re still with us.
For you never leave us. Thank you for your daily powerful Presence in our lives, that we can be assured your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us, and your ears are open to our prayers. Thank you that you surround us with favor as with a shield, and we are safe in your care.
We choose to press in close to you today…and keep you first in our hearts and lives. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
~ Debbie McDaniel
A Christmas Meal Prayer for A Blended Family
Praise You for family. You have placed people in our lives on purpose, to love us in Your name and for us to love in Your honor. Christmas is a time to be focused on Your gift to us. You made us daughters and sons through Jesus’ death on the cross. He came to this earth as a tiny, vulnerable baby boy, and walked the very soil we walk in order to save our souls.
Jesus, Prince of Peace, be present in our family rooms this Christmas. Be in our kitchens and seated at our tables.
Fill the void of family members we have to let go of this Christmas, and fill our hearts with hope as we wait for our court-appointed hour to celebrate with them again.Our world is a mess, but there is hope because of Christmas. Matthew 1:23 assures us that God is with us through Jesus Christ.
Thank You for our blended family. Though we are not perfect, You tell us not to worry, and assure us that no one is (Romans 3:23).
Thank You for giving us people to share Christmas with and call family; for blessing us immensely, with new life and new hope, when we thought we had lost it all and blown all chances of a blessed life.
Your nature is to forgive and restore, and we thank You for Your perfect love in that regard.
Christ was never afraid to befriend those who were not living “perfect” lives.
Help us to walk behind You, Lord, in search of those coming through similar situations that need the wisdom You have granted us.
Show us how to reach out and help others that are struggling through situations that we have survived. For we know that in giving ourselves in Your honor, we will experience Your peace and presents.
Bless this Christmas, bless our family and bless this meal together. In Jesus' name, Amen.
~ Meg Bucher
May your Christmas dinner be blessed by love, laughter, and hearts filled with thankfulness, and may your New Year be filled with the hope and peace of God!