The word “grace” means receiving from God what we don’t deserve, specifically forgiveness of our sins and eternal life with Him in heaven.
But when we say grace, it’s a prayer we repeat prior to eating a meal. It’s a prayer of thanksgiving for the food set before us, and that God would bless or sanctify it to our bodies.
By saying grace we are giving thanks to God for his provision, for everything he has given to us, because in truth all belongs to the Lord, and therefore it is by His grace we have it to eat.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)
The origins of saying grace goes all the way back to the Apostle Peter and his dilemma when faced with a vision of unclean animals God commanded him to eat. Peter responded by saying he has never eaten anything that was not permitted in the Law of Moses.
But the Lord replied, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:15)
The Apostle Paul picked up this theme in his first letter to Timothy.
“For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5)
Saying grace, however, has become more of a ritual than what it was truly meant to do, and that was bringing evidence of God’s grace towards those who are partaking in the meal.
When we “say grace” before a meal we are acknowledging God’s provision, and that everything we have, and everything we’ve been given to eat is from the Lord’s hand of blessing, and how He has given to us everything good.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)