A Bowed Head


“Give us, this day, our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). It is a prayer answered when we sit at a table for a meal—unless we are on a diet and have given up carbohydrates. In that case, you can pray, “Give me, this day, my daily chicken or salmon.” But, before our meal plan and our battle with the bulge, these words were a part of the Lord’s Prayer and a promise of divine provision. Pointing back to the Israelites’ experience with God, who provided manna in the Wilderness of Sin, it is a reminder that God can take care of our needs up to the minute and like clockwork, that we need not store up for tomorrow (Exodus 13).

And God can prepare a table anywhere. Before microwavable meals and fast food chains, God was making food to order. Though the shelf life of manna was only for the day, this miracle proved that while “God works in mysterious ways,” God also works in the kitchen. God might ride on a cloud but God also wears an apron (Psalm 104:3). It also should be noted that God not only delivered the children of Israel from oppression but recognized their physical needs thereafter. For God, both the rattling of shackles and the growling of their stomachs were important.

When most of us sit down for a meal, we pray. We bless the meal. We “say grace.” However, like the meals we eat and the hours at which they are consumed, prayer can become a routine. We don’t imagine ourselves in the Wilderness of Sin with the children of Israel when we bow our heads and close our eyes. We do not consider that God has prepared this table, that God is in the kitchen banging pots and pans or starting the water for the dishes.

But, I was reminded yet again of the necessity of prayer and, more specifically, the importance of bowing my head. In a crowded restaurant full of young hipsters on our phones, my posture struck me. We were all coming and going back to work, to the gym, to the grocery store, and (of course) on our lunch breaks. Tables were being prepared up and down this city street.

With alarms going off in my head and deadlines circled in red now giving me dark circles around my eyes, it would have been easy for me to rush to and through my meal. But, my bowed head reminded me of both my essence and the presence of God.

Bowing my head brings me back to a kind of spiritual fetal position. In one wilderness or another, I am being carried by God. All of my progress and provisions come from the mouth of God. It is God who has made me and to God the credit belongs for the steps I’ve made.

My bowed head signals reverence for these blessings and acknowledges the presence of God who joins me at Wilderness Café. I honor God because, with flour on hands, God pulls up a chair, joins hands with me, and shares in this daily bread. If I had not bowed my head, I may have forgotten or not recognize either.

smcneillReverend Starlette McNeill* is an associate pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland and the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at www.racelessgospel.com. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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