Ever heard of the “Mormon headache”? I first heard this phrase from my mother when I was growing up. She would tell us funny little stories of going on dates with guys who would close their eyes and put their head in their hand before they ate their meal at a restaurant, as a way to say a quick silent blessing on the food. Situations like this bring up an interesting question:
Should you pray over your food when you’re in public?
Though the answer may vary for everyone, it's important to understanding why we bless the food before deciding on the solution for your family. According to the BYU Encyclopedia entry on blessing the food, “Latter-day Saints follow the patterns established by Christ and his disciples in blessings on food. When feeding the multitudes, Christ gave thanks for sustenance (Matt. 15:35-36) and blessed it (Matt. 14:19). Paul taught that food was to be received with prayer and thanksgiving (1 Tim. 4:3-5).”
In other words, we need to take time to thank Heavenly Father for our food before we eat it and remember Him in all things. This is an important part of humbling ourselves and having gratitude daily. Most Mormons have also heard, however, some version of the phrase in 3rd Nephi 5:5-6, which instructs us not to pray “in the corners of the streets, that [we] may be seen of men.”
Whether you are intentionally bringing attention to your prayer or not, blessing the food in a public place like a restaurant can still feel a little awkward. We know the importance of blessing the food, but can feel self-righteous or uncomfortable doing it in a place that others might notice. As a compromise, Mormons have come up with many ways to be both subtle and faithful to blessing the food, including the "Mormon headache" and the "prayer stare" (staring at the food for a few minutes while saying a quick, silent prayer).
Obviously, everyone has a different way to remember to thank the Lord for their food, but the most important thing is that we do remember Him.
How do you handle praying over your food in public? Take our poll below!