Increasingly I’m being asked to say grace at functions–the company Christmas party, family dinners. Prayers are like any other writing. To be effective they need to be relevant, appropriate for the occasion, and aimed at the specific audience. The words need to connect on an emotional level and be free of hypocrisy. In other words, it takes some thought, some skill, and some courage to agree to this request.
There are resources to help a person prepare for such a request. I’ve got a couple of generic ones I’ve lifted from other people at other occasions that are nice, fall-back kinds of prayers. I’ve got books of prayers written by other people for specific situations, like illness. When I needed to come up with grace for dinner at my aunt’s a couple of years ago I knew I wanted to include events that had captivated the world. I’ll include the text here to reassure you that anyone can do this–no, should do it–if given the opportunity.
With the entire world in mourning over the tsunami and other disasters or celebrating the fight for basic freedoms like democracy in Ukraine, we ask for Your help in putting our own, often petty, concerns in perspective.
Help open our eyes, hearts, and wallets to all those suffering–whether down the block or around the world.
We thank you for our lives, our health, our loved ones, our freedoms, our prosperity. We ask You to continue blessing us even when we’ve done nothing to deserve it other than being born in a safe, prosperous country to loving parents.
Remember those who couldn’t be here and bless them too.
Finally, we give thanks for the chance to be together to share a lovely meal and each other’s company. Amen.?
It’s far better if you have time to think about the situation and your core message but unfortunately sometimes we just need to wing it.
If you’re asked to say grace at the last minute try to take a moment or two in private to gather your thoughts and maybe jot down a few key words. Far better to refer to a piece of paper than ramble on in an embarrassed or incoherent way.
Without prep time we’re more likely to forget some key point or person. Clutching that piece of paper, even if you never look at it, instils a sense of confidence and prevents the dreaded blank mind.
Saying grace or offering a toast at a wedding or other such small talks can lead to the increased self-confidence required for longer speeches or presentations at work. Apparently, people fear public speaking more than death, so the line goes people are more comfortable in the casket than giving the eulogy. To speak confidently is a joy and a gift both to the speaker and the audience, from where I sit.