I have written in the past about Slow Lent and how this season of spiritual discipline can be a time to deliberately slow down. The slowing down can be an intentional way to make space and time to listen for God. My Lenten discipline for this year has a specific deceleration: prayerful eating.
I am not sure how or why but I grew up eating my meals in a hurry, but I have continued that practice today. I seem to inhale my food without giving it much thought or reflection. I don’t even really taste and enjoy the meal. I noticed my rush at a recent dinner with friends from Resurrection; I cleaned my plate ten minutes before anyone else. And I was engaged in the table conversation!
When I was at the Pacem in Terris hermitage earlier this winter, I decided to take my time eating the simple meals of fruit, cheese and bread. To give thanks for my daily bread. To be mindful of the taste, texture and smell of the meal. To enjoy each mouthful as a gift from God, the farmers, bakers, and handlers of the food. I reflected on verse 4 of Psalm 103, “who satisfies you with good as long as you live.” Each meal became a holy moment in my retreat.
I have continued that practice after I left. So I was surprised and pleased when our national church office of the ELCA recommend a similar approach as a Lenten discipline. It is called prayerful eating and it is adapted from Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays, M.D. The first four steps are:
1. Prayerfully express your gratitude throughout the meal.
2. Pause before beginning the meal. Look at each item of food, taking it in with your eyes. Notice the color, texture, and shape of the food.
3. Take a moment to say grace. Thank God, animals, plants and people who provided these gifts of food.
There are further steps and explanation which you can access at this link.
I am planning simple meals this Lent. My daughter Christina taught me the delicious value of rice and beans this past summer. (My other daughter , Suzanne, taught me the delicious value of a cheesecake, but I plan to enjoy that after Easter.)
The whole purpose of the prayerful eating discipline is to become aware of God’s presence in the midst of my daily life.
How do you build such awareness into your life?
Lord Jesus, thank you for my daily bread.
Nice post, John. I, too, struggle with eating too fast. I have the book you mention. Might have to bring it back as a Lenten read. Take good care! Pat
I love this idea. As I transition back to actually “chewing” my food, this is a perfect reminder for me.
Thanks Pat and Terri. I realize more and more that I am constantly multitasking as I eat– listening to radio, reading on my tablet, writing my next sermon,– and ignoring the food I eat. “Give us this day our daily bread”,is more than a request for nutrition; it is the grateful recognition of God’s provision.
Such a nice idea. The link no longer works. Can it be found elsewhere?
The Portico Benefits website has deleted that page. I am not aware of another Prayerful Eating website. Perhaps I should explore this practice further myself.