My 4-year-old daughter recently learned to say grace at mealtimes. I taught her the same little prayer my mom taught me in childhood:
God is great
God is good
Let us thank him for our food
By his hands we all are fed
Give us Lord our daily bread
At first, my daughter questioned the need for reciting this strange passage. "Why do we have to thank God?" she wondered.
"To show that we are grateful for our daily bread," I explained.
"What is 'grateful'?" she asked.
"Being appreciative for what we have," I answered.
"But I'm not eating daily bread," she argued in between bites of macaroni and cheese.
"It means whatever fills your tummy each day," I clarified.
In typical toddler fashion, my daughter is now absolutely fanatical about her new routine. Not only must we say grace before every meal, but also before each snack. And anytime we have a drink. And anytime her baby brother gobbles Cheerios in his car seat. Failure to give thanks to God is met with swift retribution. Our daughter has no qualms about chastising us in public -- at restaurants, airports or Starbucks:
"Hey, stop eating! You forgot to say grace!"
Despite the embarrassment it sometimes causes, I love her unrepentant zeal. It reminds us not to take for granted our too-infrequent gestures of daily thanksgiving. It reminds us to be humble. Following her lead, we must all bow our heads and fold our hands and shut our eyes and shout a full-throated "Amen!"
The snobs of secularism will no doubt disparage such simple-minded expressions of piety. They call us "Jesus freaks," "Bible-thumpers" and "fundies." They accuse us of being "weak" and of suffering from a "neurological disorder." They consider us such a threat that they have sought to expunge even the most innocuous references to thanking God in the public schools.
When Garwood, N.J., student Kaeley Hay wrote a Thanksgiving poem mentioning the Pilgrims' gratitude to the Lord, according to the Newark Star-Ledger, skittish administrators initially removed the word "God" from her piece: