In the movie (and similarly in the theatrical production), The Sound of Music, the protagonist, Maria, is about to have dinner with the family whose children for whom she has been assigned to serve as a governess. She says grace in this way:
“For what we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful”
This is a variation of a historical form of saying grace* (being thankful before a meal), and you may even know someone who uses this prayer). While giving thanks can take many forms, let’s take a look at this prayer.
First, notice that gratitude in this case is not contingent on the quality of the meal in front of us. It is a reflection that God provides everything for us. It requires some trust on our part, because we must believe that God will provide, even in those cases where we may not know how.
This prayer is not just appreciation for food we have enjoyed – it is counting on God to bless us. Rather than being thankful after eating (which is perfectly ok), it gives God credit that he will take care of us. Faith like that is a great cure for worry.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6 NIV
Secondly, if we are tempted to forego being grateful, this prayer asks for help with that, too. Enemies of gratitude include pride (where we may think that we are responsible for our success), haste, ignorance, or just forgetfulness. See Luke 17:11-19 for an example.
This is a good reminder to ourselves of the truths found in I Timothy 4:4-5:
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
1 Timothy 4:4-5 NIV
Do you need to pray this prayer today? If so, what do you need most: the ability to trust God to provide for you, or help in being thankful for what He does provide? If you’re not about to eat, consider taking the same sentiment from this prayer and directing it towards what you are expecting from your day. That is, don’t just ask God to help you be thankful for food, but also for opportunities, challenges, and blessings that He will give you, today.
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
Psalm 95:1-2 NIV
* See these links for more context on this particular prayer: