Must a prayer be said before eating a meal?


Is it good to say grace before eating a meal whether it be big or small?  Would it be a sin if I don't give thanks to God before eating?


Being thankful to God is important. We need to express in prayer your recognition where our blessings come from. "Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). One of those things that God gives us is our food. "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11).

There is no command saying that we are to pray before eating. Instead, we see examples of Jesus giving thanks.

  • "And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude" (Matthew 15:36).
  • "Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you" (Matthew 26:27).
  • "However, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks" (John 6:23).

Paul also is mentioned giving thanks before eating. "And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat" (Acts 27:35).

There are cases where a meal is described, but no mention is made of giving thanks, such as when Jesus eat breakfast with the disciples at the beginning of John 21. It is possible that a prayer was said, but not recorded. However, we just don't know. Because of this, while we can conclude that saying a prayer of thanks before a meal is proper and acceptable, we cannot say with certainty that not saying a prayer before a meal is wrong.