Mealtime is traditionally spent with family and friends. This is true regardless of culture or religion. Whether as a reminder of our interdependence such as a Buddhist prayer or a Christian prayer to a sentient being, each religion has mealtime prayers.
Muslims recite du'a, which in Arabic means "summon," as a form of worship. A variety of opportunities are available to offer thanks to Allah throughout the day. Before a meal, a du'a is said in Arabic. The wording in English is "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. O Allah, bless Muhammad and his family. O Allah, I ask You, in my eating and drinking, safety from illness, and to obey You and remember You and be thankful to You, as long as it remains in my body, and through its strength encourage me towards Your worship and inspire me to refrain from Your disobedience. O Allah bless Muhammad and his family." Muslims also have a prayer for after meals.
One of the most popular prayers for mealtime is the Christian grace prayer. Said as a thanks for the food and life God has provided, this prayer has many variations. An example of the wording is as follows; "God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. By his hands, we are fed. Let us thank him for our bread. Amen." Not all variations of the prayer rhyme and generally participants share something they are particularly grateful for.
The Berakhot is a Jewish blessing that is recited before events and on special occasions. When recited before a meal, it is meant to be a thanks for the physical pleasure about to be partaken of. The recitation has remained largely unchanged for the past 2500 years. Though prayers can be said in any language, Hebrew is traditionally used.
Found in the religious text the Bhagavad Gita, a prayer is offered before meals to acknowledge the presence of God in all things. Sample wording for a Hindu mealtime prayer translated into English is as follows: "The food is God. The plates, spoon, etc. are God. The eater is God. The fire of hunger is God. The act of eating is God." More important even than the act of prayer and the words is the mindset of the person giving the prayer.
Many schools of Buddhist thought exist, and each has their own customs and rituals. For example, Japanese Shin Buddhists say a prayer before meals that translated into English is "I take this nourishment in gratitude (to all beings)." The meaning behind any mealtime Buddhist prayer is to express gratitude for all beings involved with providing the food.
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