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Praying Before the Meal: A Neighborhood Blessing

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Paper illustration of many hands laced together in prayer
Gail Armstrong
The story of a child's faith and how one prayer before a meal brought our neighborhood together.

When my family and I moved to a new state, our neighbors welcomed us with open arms. They had neighborhood get-togethers and potlucks, and we were invited to these frequent gatherings. With all things happening at each of these gatherings, praying before the meal was often the last thing we thought of doing. Little did I know that this neighborhood was about to be brought together in a powerful way through the story of a child’s faith.

At our first event, my husband joined the men in the living room, and my daughter headed to play with the other children. I ended up in the kitchen, trying to fit in and make new friends.

When it was time to eat, everyone came together, got their plates of food, and started eating as they continued their conversations. Standing and holding my plate, I didn’t give much thought to anything but getting to know my new neighbors — until I heard a child’s voice behind me.

“Mommy, she won’t eat,” the child said to her mother.

“Why not?” the woman asked. “Is something wrong?”

“She won’t eat because we didn’t say a blessing.”

The realization quickly dawned on me. They were talking about my 6-year-old daughter.

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Standing Out Because of A Child’s Faith

As I stood with my mouth full of food, I was so proud of her and so ashamed of myself. No one there knew I was a Christian, but at that moment, they all knew my daughter was.

Christianity was not as prominent in our new northern town as it had been in our previous city in the Bible Belt. I had even heard one of our neighbors vocalize her disgust over the born-again stuff being “pushed down her throat.”

Now I held my breath to see how this group would react to my daughter’s stand. Amazingly, everyone stopped eating as someone asked my daughter to thank God for the food. It was a beautiful gesture from kind people. And for the two years we lived in that neighborhood, everyone respected my daughter’s desire to pray before meals.

Praying Before the Meal As Neighbors

I’ll never forget our last neighborhood gathering. It was a Christmas dinner our next-door neighbor hosted — the same neighbor who had initially announced her opposition to anyone who tried to tell her about Jesus and becoming a Christian.

With all our neighbors gathered around her table, our host instructed everyone to hold hands as we thanked God for the meal. Through the story of a six-year-old child’s faith, God had an entire neighborhood holding hands and praying together. That day I witnessed a seed growing that God had used my daughter to plant.

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