For any of you who ever watch the Robertson family on Duck Dynasty, you are familiar with the fact that each episode closes with the family around the table and the patriarch beard of the group, Phil Robertson, saying, “Y’all bow.” He leads them in a prayer of thanksgiving for the food whether it be squirrel stew or crawfish or frog legs. For those of you who may be of the uninitiated and don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, or for those of you who have tried to watch and concluded this is the most bizarre thing you’ve ever seen, or those of you who were maybe repulsed by it, I would tell you again that the constant piece in each one of the TV programs is Phil saying, “Y’all bow.”
Across the nation you can imagine over the several years they have been on TV they have received a lot of attention because of their praying as they sit down to eat and frequently praying “in Jesus’s name.” Still they continue to do it and they continue to be the most watched cable TV program in the USA and Canada. For whatever else you may think of the program or the family, it seems to me that it’s nothing but good, the example they set in giving thanks to God before they dive in to eat. In this entitlement age, grab and go and give me more, never pausing to say thank you to anybody much less the God of heaven from whom every good and perfect gift flows, they are blessing many people by saying the blessing. God deserves our thanks.
I remember a story of years ago of a farm hand that was working on this farm during the summer. He pretty much lived with the farmer’s family and participated in their activities from sunup to after dark. And it was all strange and new to him. They would pause to eat a big breakfast and they would give thanks for the new day and all that God had provided. They headed out into the fields and to the day’s work sometimes miles away from the home place and they would pause to eat some prepared sandwiches. They would pray again thanking God for His provisions. Tired and weary after a long day of labor they would come in and would soon go sit down to a good meal. The visiting laborer asked the farmer’s young son, “Son, does everybody here on the farm pray before eating anything?” The boy thought and said, “No sir, the hogs don’t.”
In this land of plenty in which some who live at the poverty line are seen as greatly blessed by the rest of the world, we need to be participants in saying, “Thank You, God.” We have so much; it really sets us apart from the rest of the world for we have to worry more about eating too much than having too little. We need to thank God.
The other day I was in a restaurant waiting to eat and I saw a group of teenagers come in and sit down at a booth not far away from me. They too were waiting on their food. Then after a while I looked over and it caught my attention because all four of them were bowing. I thought they may be giving thanks for the food or just having prayer together and I thought, how special is that? It did my heart good, but as I watched I realized they were not praying or communicating with God. All four of them were sitting there with their heads down staring at their phones and texting someone. What a generational divide and a different day we live in. But if I could take this moment to encourage you, whether it’s just by yourself or with kids or grandkids or friends, what a thoughtful thing it would be to pause and say, “Thank You, God, for the blessings of this day and the bounty of food and goodness You pour out upon us.”
Sad to say, but James in his little book put his finger right on the biggest problem with most of our prayer life. “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). Simply, we do not pray. We talk about praying. We write about praying. We sing about praying. We complain about not being allowed to pray, but then when we can, we don’t. If we would just get serious about talking to God not only day by day but moment by moment as we face life’s challenges and crises and celebrations and get in touch with the Father and pray. I hear people talk about how they are so opposed to the fact that prayer has been removed from the schools. I tend to agree with them, yet on the other hand, I tend to think there is a lot of praying that goes on in school that nobody can stop. I speak for a lot of people who maybe didn’t call an all-night prayer vigil, but have sat in a test, staring at algebra problems, and indeed prayed. Or maybe wrestling with a language translation and it will bring you to your knees. Or some chemistry problem and it’s not just muttering under your breath when you’re trying to get in touch with God that hopefully, prayerfully, He will shake some of your cranial corpuscles and you come up with an answer. Life in its unfolding layers every day provides opportunities for us to get to God, to pray, and to have God answer those prayers.