Title: A Spoonful of Grace: Mealtime Blessings in Bite-Sized Pieces
Author: Annette Hubbell
Publisher: Credo House Publishers
2017, 432 pages, paperback, $19.99
Reviewed by Kristie Wilkins for the Association for Mormon Letters
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we see prayer as a sacred way to communicate with our Father in Heaven. We fully expect two way communication as we seek for guidance, wisdom, comfort and blessings. With this view one would think that LDS prayers are always original, ever changing. However, it is easy to get caught up in repetitious phrases that allow us to fall into the trap of mindless praying.
I can’t tell you how many times my children have asked for a “blessing on the food” during our bedtime family prayer, or pled for a “good night’s rest” while praying over their breakfast. We are human and sometimes we cut ourselves off from divine sources of help simply through habits we may not even realize we have fallen into.
I was delighted to be presented the opportunity to review A Spoonful of Grace: Mealtime Blessings in Bite-Sized Pieces by Annette Hubbell. Not only was I eager to gain insight into another’s faith, I was looking forward to the opportunity to make my personal and family prayers more meaningful.
A Spoonful of Grace is a lovely book with a floral/herbal theme throughout. It is organized into sections including daily prayers or Everyday Graces (one per day), Sunday Graces, and Special Graces for holidays and birthdays. With one grace per page, and 366 graces in all, it is easy to flip through the book to find specific topics you would like to ponder for at least a year. The book includes an index of scriptural references and specifies which translation of the Bible the author has used for each.
My first impression of A Spoonful of Grace was how much time, thought and work was put into compiling these graces. Every day’s grace begins with a scripture. A grace or prayer follows. Grace notes are included to help the reader gain additional insight into the scripture and how it relates to the reader’s current circumstances. Ms. Hubbell has a wonderfully straightforward way of speaking both in her graces and in her notes. Her graces are authentic, no holds barred, honest and open communication with her Heavenly Father. I found myself fascinated by the way she interprets scripture to apply to her own experiences, many, if not all, of which are common to all of the human race. Ms. Hubbell’s insights are accessible and applicable to all of us at any age or circumstance in life.
For example, Every Day Grace 101:
God hates cheating in the marketplace; he loves it when business is aboveboard.”— (MSG)
Dear Jesus, thank you for this food and for our family; we love the way you give us wise words to help us understand the way things should be. Remind us that cheating at any age is low and sneaky. Guide us instead to be truthful and honest. Remind us that every act is a steppingstone that builds our character, in one direction or the other. Please bless each of us and all those in need. Amen.
‘Honest Abe’ Lincoln had high standards for dealing fairly in his business dealings with others, and they served him well (they certainly did-he became president of the United States). And his ideals didn’t apply just to big things. Once he accidentally overcharged a customer a few pennies. What did he do? He closed up shop early and walked three miles to return them. ‘Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.’ he said. What do you think this wise man meant?” [p. 102]
I love how Ms. Hubbell poses questions to her readers. As these graces are intended to be meal time prayers these questions can generate valuable and fulfilling family discussions. She encourages us as readers to engage in scripture and apply it to our lives and our prayers. What do the scriptures teach me about a principle? How can I ask for the Lord’s help or blessing with that principle in my life?
When I first received this book I worried about the concept of rote prayers. But what I found in A Spoonful of Grace were wonderful examples of how to bridge our daily scripture study with deeper thought and prayer. In a Latter-day Saint home, what could be more valuable?
From Grace 353 referencing :
Almighty Father, we ask you to guide us with your wisdom and strength. Fill us with the desire to serve you by doing what is right and what is good for others, as Solomon did. Guide us to the right values in life, Lord. Give us the ability and desire to go after wisdom and understanding; how we need them both. Lord, thank you for this day; please bless us, one and all. Amen.
God values wisdom, and you can be confident that he’ll be the source of *your* wisdom if you’ll only let him. He also wants others to see the wisdom in you so that they, too will have the confidence to seek God and find him. ‘Your wishes and desires make clear who you are.’ said the Afghan M. F. Moonzaier.” [p. 405]
Ms. Hubbell may use different phraseology than a typical LDS family is used to, but I found I could follow her thinking with ease. In fact I found her to be delightful, well versed in her scriptures, with an open and loving heart and wisdom gained by study and experience. Her faith and love for the Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the scriptures flow from every page.
Taking the time daily as a family to read A Spoonful of Grace could only serve as a wonderful exercise in meaningful scripture study and prayer. You do not have to recite the author’s graces but, used as ideas, as jumping-off points, they can only help to inspire more sincere and thoughtful prayers. Going through these exercises as family will help you to really stop and take the time to think about what you are saying and what you want to express to your Father in Heaven. I can imagine LDS families applying Ms. Hubbell’s approach to their study of the “Book of Mormon” and other LDS scripture, thereby gaining greater insight and depth to both their prayers and their mealtime conversations.
In Ms. Hubbell’s own words, “Whether shared together as a family or savored on your own these insightful readings provide manna for the soul…. Connecting with each other through a shared experience of devotional reading, discussion and prayer is so important…
“The combining of eating with prayer was such an important part of the Jewish culture of Jesus’ time. Many of his parables were told in the context of eating and drinking, and prayer was an internal part of the daily meal. I can’t help but smile when i think of the prayer of gratitude that little boy must have voiced as he, mesmerized, watched Jesus feed 5,000 people with his meager meal of five loaves and two fish. Give Jesus a little time at your meal and see what happens. You might just be amazed.” [p. xii]
And I was amazed. There is great value in this book for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their families.