Pray Crazy

September 3, 2009 | 28 comments
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Don’t ask me to “bless the refreshments” at a ward (or any other) function. Just don’t. Chalk it up to one of the Mormon sillinesses I refuse to perpetuate.

I’ll be happy to thank the Lord that we have the luxury of indulging on non-essential fat- and sugar-laden treats, but you’re just not going to hear me ask God for the brownie parfaits to make us healthy and strong. (If that worked as some kind of Jenny Craig replacement, I’d have known long ago.)

As John Gwynn commented in the “Nourish and Strengthen” thread, “I have wondered exactly what we expect the Lord to do with our request.”

If, however, you want something reasonable, I’m happy to oblige. How about one of these:

Please bless us to burn enough calories rolling the tables under the stage that the sweet rolls do not to make us fat(ter).

Please bless us not to hurt Sister Anderson’s feelings by retching the carpet padding jello where she can see us.

Add your own!

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28 Responses to Pray Crazy

  1. Jacob F on September 3, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Please bless the refreshments that they may fulfill the measure of their creation.

  2. Kent Larsen on September 3, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Please bless our team that they will beat the other team.

  3. kim on September 3, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Reminds me of my nephew’s (8) prayer at dinner one year during playoffs — “Please bless Kobe Bryant so the Lakers can win”

  4. Bro. Jones on September 3, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    I have publicly prayed for blessings of moderation, as well as strength and energy to exercise away the calories from junk food refreshments. People usually approach me afterwards and say “Yeah, you’ve got a point.”

  5. Benjamin Orchard on September 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I’ll usually keep my prayers at such events to something like, “thanks for these refreshments, and for those who took the time to make them. We are grateful we have time to enjoy them.”

    people are often so ingrained to hear the blessing part, that they don’t even NOTICE the missing request as long as your prayer is smooth and practiced. That’s the key. People expect a certain cadence and rhythm, not certain words. Comfort them with that cadence and rhythm and you could likely ask to be blessed with a plague of stinging hornets and only one or two people would actually notice anything odd. That’s just how it works.

    On the other hand, if you say the right WORDS, you can almost get away with SINGING the prayer without much effect.

    BUT, if you start working far outside the cadence & rhythm AND the expected formulaic words, then people will start to pay attention. THEN if you aren’t saying things that are appropriate, you might get some strongly negative feedback. At least you won’t get asked to pray at a silly event again.

  6. Alison Moore Smith on September 3, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Very good!

    Someone asked about “carpet padding jello.” It’s the green jello with cottage cheese, nuts, pineapple tidbits, and various and sundry other refrigerated leftovers thrown in for good measure.

    kim, I think I’ve said this before but when I was four my brother started at the top and prayed for everyone all the way down to me before saying, “Please bless Alison not to be a spoiled brat.” I can make that have something to do with blessing food, if you make me.

  7. Kim Siever on September 3, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Please bless the refreshments that they will be pleasing to the taste and very desirable.

  8. Raymond Takashi Swenson on September 3, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    My then 4-year-old grandson asked God to “please bless the X-Box”.

  9. Mike Parker on September 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Several years ago I stopped asking God to “bless” any food substance, and refuse to use the phrase “that it may nourish and strengthen our bodies.”

    I do not believe that, in response to supplication, our Heavenly Father is going to change the chemical composition of the three-cheese pepperoni pizza, root beer, and ice cream of which my family occasionally partakes to make them any more healthy or less physically harmful.

    Instead, my prayers over food now concentrate solely on giving gratitude for the meal and for those who made an effort to prepare it.

    I’d have no problem giving thanks for refreshments.

  10. Kent G. Budge on September 3, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Having just been diagnosed as diabetic, I intend to offer the following if I am ever asked to bless the refreshments.

    “Heavenly Father, we are thankful for this food, which I cannot safely consume, and ask that it won’t spike anyone else’s blood sugar either.”

    I expect it will be the last time I’m asked to do it.

  11. Yet Another John on September 3, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Re #6: So, was your brother’s prayer answered?

  12. Alison Moore Smith on September 3, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Raymond, my 5-year-old, Caleb, routinely prays thusly:

    “Make it so we’ll have a good time. Make it so we will have good treats. Make it so I won’t get out of bed when I’m not supposed to. Make it so…”

    We’ll be having another subtle home evening on proper prayer language. ;)

    Yet Another John, not for even a minute.

  13. Jamal on September 3, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    My boys have routinely asked God to bless Batman and Spiderman, or simply used their prayers to narrate some of their adventures. I credit those prayers as being more sincere than some of my blahblahblah routine ones.

    A college roommate who loved playing the contrarian had a favorite hypothetical question: “If I go into a gay bar and order a beer, should I pray to ask it to nourish and strengthen my body?”

  14. Tricia on September 3, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    My father-in-law always says, “Please bless the refreshments, that they will be sweet to us.”

  15. Bob on September 3, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    As a missionary, we would bless the food while it was still in the bags from the store. We guessed that saved about 20 prayers a week. We had other prayers for everything else.

  16. jeans on September 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Bob that reminds me of the little printed notice in the temple cafeteria that says that the food has already been blessed at the beginning of each day. What a timesaver! Makes me chuckle every time I see it. I pray anyway, SO THERE, GOD!

  17. Wilfried on September 3, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Good point, Alison. There was an article in BYU’s Daily Universe today about freshmen gaining so much weight in college because junk food takes it toll. I’m sure those good BYU students pray over their taco’s and fries to give them strength and health.

    Isn’t there some contradiction in offering students a large junk food court at their Wilkinson Student Center, plus vending machines in every building, filled with fat and sugar — and require to live the Word of Wisdom in the Honor Code?

  18. Stephanie on September 3, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    As a senior at BYU, I was asked to give the blessing on the food at two very large dinners for our department that involved alumni and donors. I forgot to mention the food in both.

  19. Karen on September 4, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Back when Seminary teachers got to go to Utah for the BYU Seminary Teacher Symposium I was training for and running marathons. There was NOTHING at ANY of the meals BYU provided for us that I could eat. They served soda, fatty meat, overcooked greasy vegetables, jello, chips, and rich desserts. I was shocked. The other seminary teacher with me was diabetic, and she had even filled out a special diet request, but there were not enough healthy meals to go around. Probably some piggy marathoner ate hers. During the nourishnstrengthen part of the prayer we looked at each other and snickered. Then we looked around. All the big CES guys were big. Hmmm. We called Enterprise and rented a car just to get better food.

  20. Alison Moore Smith on September 4, 2009 at 9:34 am

    jeans, which temple did you see this in? They had a “The Food Has Already Been Blessed” sign in the Orlando temple, but I haven’t seen one since. I loved that, too. Every time I saw it, I imagined all the workers called in to circle the giant stew vat, holding hands, and pronouncing a blessing. I won’t get more graphic about what I envisioned.

    Wilfried, I only see the contradiction to the point that the WoW proscribes fat and sugar.

    Karen, when I attended Education Week last month, I took a cooler with my own food for the week. :)

  21. Kent G. Budge on September 4, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Isn’t there some contradiction in offering students a large junk food court at their Wilkinson Student Center, plus vending machines in every building, filled with fat and sugar — and require to live the Word of Wisdom in the Honor Code?

    Avoiding junk food and sugary snacks may be prudent, and it may be healthier to be lighter, but neither is mentioned anywhere in the Word of Wisdom. Let’s not offend our weaker brethren by putting a hedge about the law.

  22. Daniel on September 4, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I have wondered what we expect the Lord to do with ALL our requests we make in prayer.

    They say the purpose of prayer is not to change the mind and will of the Lord, but to change MY mind and will.

    That seems a nice academic rationalization, but if asking for anything from the Lord is a crapshoot (throw a prayer dart at the celestial balloons and hope you hit one and that it has a prize in it) – what difference does it really make?

  23. Wilfried on September 4, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Of course, you’re right, Alison and Kent. The WoW does not prohibit fat and sugar. Apologies if my question gave that unintended impression. I will rephrase the question: shouldn’t an institution that cares for its students be concerned about healthy eating habits? Yes, and the front page article in the Daily Universe proves BYU is. But then there is the contradiction in what is offered on campus as overwhelming products.

    This week I noticed that BYU Vending took away from its machines in a building a certain healthy vegetable drink and replaced it by sugar soda pop. I inquired. Answer from Vending: the vegetable drink wasn’t selling enough, so it was replaced with a more profitable product. Vicious circle indeed if profit is valued more than health and less and less choice is offered to the students who would normally opt for healthy products.

  24. Alison Moore Smith on September 5, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Wilfried, my thought on the subject is that selling soda or other non-nutritious substances (by any entity) isn’t equivalent to not being “concerned about healthy eating habits.” To me that’s like saying that providing parking lots shows BYU isn’t really concerned about healthy exercise.

    Rather, I think it goes to supply/demand, not micro-managing what a particular person consumes at a particular time. I know really healthy people who sometimes drink soda. And I even know morbidly obese people who drink V-8.

    While I, too, wish there were more healthy choices on campus (thus, preparing and carting my own food to campus), but to get that I’ll have to convince a lot more people to eat like I do. (And that’s not easy when they LOOK better than I do!)

  25. Gary on September 8, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Did anybody else notice during the post-game interviews of the BYU v. OU game that Max Hall “prayed” for BYU’s defense?

  26. Sean on September 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I have always found it very amusing to have prayers offered over junk food at church events. Praying for other things is fine but I wonder if we offend the Lord for praying over food that has no real value for our bodies. I’ve been to ward functions where I thought praying over a dinner was fine but wondered about praying over dessert. This was a great post!

  27. Danny on September 14, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    How about: “God, bless this food that it will not make us sick”
    Is that within the control of God to keep us from getting sick? It makes much more sense than blessing high fructose corn syrup that is will “nourish and strengthen our bodies”

  28. Bryan Stout on September 15, 2009 at 8:19 am

    My typical prayer on refreshments is: “Please bless the refreshments for our enjoyment and our fellowship.”

    The latter part is the key. I have a solid testimony — based on experience, not the Spirit — on the value of refreshments for fellowship. Food is the grease for the wheel of social interaction. Without food, people tend to leave quickly; with it, they hang around longer and bless each other with their friendship.

    (Of course, to fulfill this purpose, the food need only be pleasing to eat. Naturally nourishing refreshments work just as well as desserts.)

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