Never mind the absurdity of blessing cookies and sugary punch to “nourish and strengthen our bodies” as is so common among Latter Day Saints. I’m more interested in delving into why Mormons bless their food at all. What’s inherently wrong with food that requires it to be blessed? Why the shame and taboo when a morsel of goodness bursts the first fruits of flavor through our culinary receptacles before a supplication is pronounced? Surely there is a doctrinal source indicating that’s what’s supposed to be done, right? Right?
Part of the confusion lies in what it means to “bless.” The commonly understood interpretation is to “sanctify” or “consecrate.” Mormons obsess with consecrating things: homes, oil, graves, chapels, etc., so why not their food? Additionally, Mormons love to use the word “bless” instead of saying “heal” or “give help” in their prayers: please bless John that he will recover from his illness; please bless the missionaries who are searching for souls to save; etc. “Bless” is as meaningless as “literally” that has now become an intensifier.
I would argue the most common use of “bless” in the Bible means to “praise” often meaning a “praise God.” And when it comes to food, choosing the right definition makes all the difference. Pay attention to the word “bless” as you read these verses regarding prayer and food.
Exodus 23:25 “And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.” — God sanctifies our food and takes away the sickness when we serve Him.
Deuteronomy 8:10 “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.” — Praise God after eating.
Matthew 14:19 “And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.” — Jesus praised God and then passed out the food.
It’s much more likely, in the New Testament, Jesus pronounced a b’rakhah (blessing, benediction) that Jews were accustomed to recite before meals, “Barukh attah, Adonai Eloheynu, melekh-ha’olam, haMotzi lecheem, minha’aretz”, or , “Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”
So next time you sit down to “bless the food,” try blessing, err, praising God for the food instead because it all comes from that which he declared as good (Genesis 1:31).
What do you think? Do you “bless” your food, praise God, give thanks, or just eat?
Adapted from this.