Archive E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

“Feed Our Immortal Souls”: A Reformed Guide to Private Devotion (4)

We come now to the next section in the German Reformed Church’s “Guide to Private Devotion,” a series of helps to remain prayerful and attentive to eternal realities throughout the course of the day.

This section deals with the common table–with “saying grace”; and it is recommended to do this both before and after eating. Once again, the prayers draw out the analogies between created and redemptive truths. For God always uses the mundane as a vehicle for the heavenly–human speech for his holy Word, water for baptism, bread and wine for the Holy Supper, and, supremely, the body and soul of a man for the Incarnation of the Divine and Eternal Son.

The authors base most of these prayers on Scriptural texts, when they are not simply verbatim quotations of the Bible. Thus the second takes its lead from the Lord’s Prayer; the third combines James 1 and John 6; the fourth is a quotation from Psalm 103; and the fifth is a quotation from Psalm 106. The seventh is simply the Gloria Patri, an appropriate prayer in any situation.

Before and After Meals.

The eyes of all wait upon thee, and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thy hand, and satisfiest the desires of every living thing.–Ps. cxlv. 15, 16.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.–James i. 17.

Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.–1 Tim. iv. 4, 5.

SANCTIFY, O LORD, this food of Thy mercy to our use, and ourselves to Thy service, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

GIVE us this day our daily bread; forgive us our sins; and save us in Thy kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

WE thank Thee, O God, from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift, for these new provisions of Thy bounty. Feed our immortal souls with the bread of life, and admit us at last to the table of Thy saints in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

BLESS the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. Amen.

PRAISE ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever. Amen.

GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.