In my Ward I hold the prestigious office of First Attendant to the Ward Mission leader. One of my responsibilities (according to the Ward Mission Leader) is offering the prayer prior to “munch-n-mingles.” I don’t want to overstate the importance of my contribution to the success of the activity, but without the blessing, the food can’t nourish and strengthen us. As everyone knows, a blessing on food is not complete unless you utter the phrase; “bless this food that it will nourish and strengthen our bodies.”
However, in Matthew Chapter 6 verse 7 it says; “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions . . ." In my humble opinion, nothing exemplifies “vain repetition” so much as the phrase; “nourish and strengthen our bodies.” To avoid vain repetition when I pray I try and say something like “strengthen and nourish” or “feed and toughen our bodies.” Sometimes I even say “nourish and strengthen our bodies so that we’ll arrive home safely.”
Last Sunday we had another munch-n-mingle and was I asked to say the prayer. For refreshments we were serving ice cream sandwiches prepared by (I’m not making this up) the FatBoy Ice Cream company. Each sandwich has 240 calories and satisfies 25% of your daily saturated fat requirements. In addition each FatBoy contains significant amounts of cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, and sugar. Sure, FatBoys taste great but perhaps they’re not the thing your empty stomach needs after three hours of church.
So, I begin the prayer covering all the basics; grateful for the freedom to worship, thankful for our many blessings, etc. etc. etc. Now for the important part, the blessing of the food. What to say about the FatBoy? Bless it that it will be good for us? Nourish us? Bless the FatBoys so no one will acquire type II diabetes from its consumption? Bless it that the sugar they infuse into the bloodstream of the primary kids won’t cause their parents undue stress? My mind went blank and as sometimes happens when my mind goes blank, my lips stopped moving. Silence.
Everyone was waiting for “amen” so they could partake of the refreshments. My mind raced to find just the right blessing for the FatBoy--I couldn’t think of anything! When I can’t think of anything to say I go with what I know, I said; “bless this food that it will nourish and strengthen our bodies, amen.”
Failure. I hadn’t come up with an appropriate blessing for the FatBoy and had resorted to vain repetition.
I'd like to hope a miracle occurred last Sunday and the several hundred FatBoys consumed really did nourish and strengthen our bodies. Sadly, I don’t think I had enough faith to change FatBoys to bran muffins and I just have to be content knowing that each FatBoy contained some vitamin C and calcium.
On the bright side; we may not have been nourished but as a result of my prayer we all “arrived safely at our destinations without suffering any serious harm or accident.”