Prayer For Food

edited July 2010 in Random Issues
i was recently in a monastery in rochester and one of the brothers there gave me the prayer before eating and i included our father since i know some liturgy books dont have it

[coptic]Tensepe`hmot `ntotk Pen[oic Iycouc Pi,rictoc je akcob nan ‘ntaivorsi.
`Emou `eroc `e`vry] etak`ecou `epitiou `nwik nem pitebt `cnau.
Moi nan on `n]qre `mPipneuma e;naswpi euwnq `n`eneh.
Masebi`w `nnyetqoci e;byte tenna`sbio`w nwou an alla `n;ok pet]sebi`w nwou.
Ma nihyki nemnyethoker ouoh cwtem `eron enws `ebol enjw `emmoc
je peniwt...

je peniwt et qen nivyou`i Mareftoubo `nje pekran Marec`I `nje tekmetouro Petehnak marefswpi `m`vri] qen `tve nem hijen pikahi Penwik `nte rac] myif nan `mvoou Ouoh ,a nyeteron nan `ebol `mvry] hwn `nten,w `ebol `Nnyete ouon `ntan `erwou Ouoh `mperenten `eqoun `epiracmoc alla nahmen evol ha pipethwou Qen P=,=c I=y=c Pen=o=c
Je wk te ]jom nem pi`wou nem pi`cmou nem pi`amahi sa `eneh `amyn


in english its

We thank you or lord jesus Christ for you prepared this table for us
Bless it as you blessed the five loaves and the two fish
Give us also the food of the spirit which will be for eternal life
Reward those who tired for us we cannot reward them but you are the one who will reward them
Give to the poor and those who are hungry and hear us when we cry our saying Our Father…


  • Thanx Crazy for this entry. Not sure you wanted any replies here on this but i thought you could have many if people think about what you wrote...
    for instance, i think that learning a prayer off by heart and saying it exactly the same every time you pray over your food can make that prayer meaningless, however beautiful and spiritual it may be. i said 'can make' and i did not say 'it does make'..
    it is certainly God honoring to thank God for food and ask him to bless it but, it may not be God honoring to say a prayer that doesn't come from the heart, a prayer that you don't even think about because you have said it so many times that it comes out 'automatically', instinctively. isn't this kind of prayer that bypassed the heart and, sometimes ht mind, self honoring?. for it gives us the satisfaction that we have prayed whilst God receives no thankfulness from our hearts.
    what do you think?..
  • Unfortunately, as someone who has been an Evangelical for much of my life, I have to say that all prayer can be half-hearted. I have heard countless extempore prayers that were trite and said nothing, and rather reflected the sudden surprise of some person who had been asked to lead a grace.

    In my own experience, and in the tradition of our own Orthodox Church, there is a place for extempore prayer, but our spirituality is formed and moulded by a committed and attentive participation in the personal prayers of the Hours and in the services of the Church. Those who have gained maturity in the faith and in the spiritual life will be found to pray in accordance with the greatest treasures of our spirituality and their extempore prayers will be like those of the Agpeya, the Liturgy and the Bible. But for most of us, we need to concentrate on praying the prayers which the Church has established for us, but praying them with attention.

    The prayer of the heart is not the same as extempore prayer. It is not the same as prayer prayed with emotion. It is the prayer offered when we are consciously standing before God in spirit. If the work of our lives is to become spiritual men and women then our prayer will be spiritual, whether extempore or according to our tradition. If we are not spiritual people then our extempore prayer will be lifeless.

    At least when we pray the prayers of the Church we are offering something of value to those who share in the prayer over food. And at least we witness against our own lack of attention and can be called back to a proper spiritual attitude.

    This morning I was praying the hour of Prime, as most of us are in the habit of doing, and I had was thinking a little about extempore prayer because I had seen this thread. I was praying the prayer...

    As the daylight shines upon us, O Christ Our God, the true Light, let the luminous senses and the bright thoughts shine within us, and do not let the darkness of passions hover over us, that mindfully we may praise You with David saying, “My eyes have awaken before the morning watch, that I might meditate on Your sayings."  Hear our voices according to your great mercy, and deliver us, O Lord our God, through Your compassion.

    And it struck me that this perfect prayer expressed all I could ever hope to say in an extempore prayer. Indeed I could never hope to say so much and so well. There is little value, it seems to me, in trying to re-invent the wheel. Much better to learn to pray THESE prayers with attention so that they become MY prayers, and so that MY prayer is moulded and formed by THESE prayers.

    I used to be part of an Evangelical congregation where among the young people at least we were always trying to do something new. But the great blessing of Orthodoxy is that we find life and salvation not by doing something new all the time, but by entering into, and participating in, the ancient but ever new life of the Church.

    Saying a grace is a small thing, and there is a great deal of flexibility and variety in the forms, lengths etc etc. But having a formal blessing does, it seems to me, set the meal apart as a sacramental activity, one which can be filled with grace and the gracious presence of God. My own bishop always prays...

    The eyes of all wait upon Thee, O Lord, and Thou givest them their meat in due season. Lord bless the food and drink of Thy servants, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages.

    I know in my own experience that when I am at an extended family gathering, of mostly non-Orthodox, I will often give a mumbled extempore grace that rambles on and repeats itself. I certainly mean well. I am not sure it is more heartfelt than the grace my bishop uses or any other traditional one which could be used.

    In regard to prayer being automatic, I would have to say that my experience is that learning the prayers of the Church off by heart, and praying them thousands of times, can make them truly our own in a way that extempore prayer never is. If I begin my prayers and discover I have lost attention I can repeat what I have said more attentively, or continue with more attention. If I am only praying extemporaneously then I will just have lost attention.  This is surely the difference between having an Olympic training programme that we must stick to, and just going out for a run. In the first case it is clear what we have set out to do, and sometimes it will be tough, but the training schedule is there to get us somewhere, to get us fit. We won't always be attentive, we won't always find it fun, we won't always remember what we have done. But if we just go out for a jog we can be distracted, pull into a coffee bar, decide to get the bus home, and there is nothing to stop us.

    Sometimes habits can be just habits. For good or bad. But sometimes they are the necessary building blocks for spiritual growth. To have the habit of prayer and not be benefitting from it is something that is already on the way to growth. But to not have te habit at all is a difficult place to grow from. To pray, even habitually, is a good thing because we are at least offering time to God and can say to him - Lord, I know that I am not giving you the attention you deserve, but please accept these words I am saying as an offering to you, and transform them into prayers, and my hard and cold heart into a loving and living one.

    In my own experience it has been the Agpeya and the Jesus Prayer alone, which have engaged me in the habit of prayer. For 25 years as an Evangelical, given only the model of extempore prayer, I made little progress. It is like someone wanting to learn to be a Master Carpenter being given some bits of wood and some tools and told to get on with it. I am sure that after a lifetime of monastic and spiritual experience the prayers of His Holiness are beautiful and worth treasuring. But for myself, I know that when I open my mouth I have little of worth to say, and so I use the best prayers of the greatest Christians and try to make them my own.

    Father Peter
  • Thank you Father Peter for such an insightful and comprehensive reply. If i were to add anything to my previous post i would just have to copy and paste your reply as there is no way i could communicate it more clearly and comprehensively than that.
    i would like to extend my heart felt gratitude to crazy4christ1 for raising the point and to Father Peter for his illuminating guidance. 
  • it's easy to assume that prayers that are written down are not from the heart, especially if you live in a culture that does not value learning by repetition.
    in fact, learning prayers and Bible passages is very valuable. we should all do this, then we have a basis of understanding on which we can also add spontaneous prayers.
    i am delighted that lightening raised this issue, i hope that you will learn the value of these written prayers, you can find the online agpeya at
  • I do love the Agpeya.

    There is value in all of the collections of prayers in the various Orthodox Churches, but I am glad to use the Agpeya. The prayers are carefully fitted to the times of the day and night. They certainly help me to be collected through the day and inspire me. The more I pray the Agpeya with attention the more it teaches me how to properly pray.

    Let me also say that we should know and love and use and pray the Psalms so much more than most of us do.

    Father Peter
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