Just looking at outward behavior (allowing for those who perhaps offer up a silent prayer of gratitude) it would appear that there are lots of critters nosing up to the troughs at those high-class barnyards we call restaurants, mindful of little else beside their appetites.
When my kids were small I used to say them, “Only the animals don’t pray before they eat.” This was not meant to reflect badly on pigs or chickens. They follow unerring instincts and appetites. When pigs scramble for the slop you will hear no grunts of gratitude. No higher dimension of life is required of them. The same cannot be said for you or me. We give ourselves away at the table when the gifts there are not recognized as such and the Giver is not acknowledged.
Even a cursory reading of the gospels reveals that our Lord Jesus Christ lived in an attitude of prayer. He prayed habitually, regularly seeking out times and places to talk with the Father. Prayer was, and is, a dimension of what it means to be truly human. In this respect prayer is not something we do as simply an aid to faith nor is it an exercise in manipulating God in our direction. Prayer is a symptom of a living relationship. We pray because we are aware that we are being heard.
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray (and it is instructive that they had to be taught) He taught them to address God as Father. It is not how we pray that is significant but to whom we pray. When we call God “Our father…” we dare to trust Him as provider, defender, One with whom we walk hand in hand, life in life.
So, the next time you are at the feed trough, before you and your appetite dive in, remember, prayer is something you do because you are somebody – you are the child of a loving Father “from whom all blessings flow.”
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”