Prayers & Poems for Everyday Meals and Special Occasions

  • Chapter 1   - For Any Gathering
  • Chapter 2   - Seasonal Graces
  • Chapter 3   - For Holidays
  • Chapter 4   - For Family Gatherings
  • Chapter 5   - Native American Graces
  • Chapter 6   - Traditional Graces
  • Chapter 7   - For Children
  • Chapter 8   - For the Earth
  • Chapter 9   - Musical Graces
  • Chapter 10 - Short Graces
  • Chapter 11 - From Around the World
  • Chapter 12 - For Peace and Justice
  • Chapter 13 - For Contemplation


























We thank Thee God
as we watch
the distant hills
suddenly emerge
above the filmy, white mist
and gently touch heaven--
awakening the sun
for another day.

Joan Stephen



O Lord, as now we break the fast
We thank Thee for the night safe passed.
Now grant safekeeping on our way,
Good cheer and strength and health all day.

Thomas Elwood



Are there graces for lettuce, Lord? And low-fat, no-fat, meat-free, fun-free meals? I need you to send me words for blessing this paltry meal before me, Lord, for it is difficult to feel grateful for these skimpy portions when all I think of are the foods not on my plate. Help me change that thought, to make peace with choosing not to eat them, for I need help in becoming the healthier person I want to be. Hold up for me a mirror of the new creation you see me to be, for I need a companion at this table, Lord.

Margaret Anne Huffman



May your love be firm,
and may your dream of life together
be a river between two shores--
by day bathed in sunlight, and by night
illuminated from within. May the heron
carry news of you to the heavens, and the salmon bring
the sea's blue grace. May your twin thoughts spiral upward
like leafy vines, like fiddle strings in the wind,
and be as noble as the Douglas fir.
May you never find yourselves back to back
without love pulling you around
into each other's arms.

James Bertolino



Help us to live each day as if it were the last. Show the love we feel for everyone we pass. Amen.

Ken Keyes, Jr.



Creator of the world
Help us love one another,
Help us care for each other
As sister or brother,
That friendship may grow
From nation to nation.
Bring peace to our world
O Lord of Creation.

Author unknown

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REVIEW: GRACES: PRAYERS & POEMS FOR EVERYDAY MEALS AND SPECIAL OCCASIONS (HarperSanFrancisco 1994) began as a notebook in which June Cotner collected favorite prayers and reflections from friends and family. Cotner has arranged her 133 offerings by theme, drawing from many cultural traditions and including such originals as a grace for dieting and a springtime prayer of thanks for lilacs. (New Age Journal)


REVIEW: Saying grace at mealtimes is a time-honored tradition for many families … and a newfound source of spiritual connection for others. Whether you are a master at giving the blessing or fairly new at this sacred art, Graces will bring inspiration to your meals and special gatherings.

Seeing the need for such inspiration at her family's table, June Cotner-- a best-selling author of The Home Design Handbook--compiled a notebook of poems, prayers and songs that she solicited from friends, strangers, family members and ministers. She has turned her family's well-worn notebook into this elegantly packaged edition, which can take a rightful place on the table complementing the finest of table settings.

Arranged by 13 themes, the book contains poems, prayers, songs, invocations and salutations by figures as diverse as Leunig and Browning, Emerson and Starhawk, Kahlil Gibran and Schweitzer. Whether the call is for a Sanskrit salutation to the dawn, a Gaelic blessing or an ancient Chinese prayer, Graces offers fitting words for every occasion.

Cotner drew from her collection of 133 original, traditional and multicultural blessings in compiling the book. Realizing that one of the rewards of family dinner--or group dinners--is the fellowship, these blessings offer an opportunity to share wisdom and insight with family and friends before, during or after meals or special gatherings. (Washington Diocese, February/March 1995)


REVIEW: A new book from HarperSanFrancisco could be quite useful if you find yourself at a loss for words when everyone is looking to you for inspiration. Do what most of us do: Take someone else's words and use them. "Graces, Prayers and Poems for Everyday Meals and Special Occasions" is a compilation of prayers and poems for many of life's celebrations and some of the everyday, as well.

Included are 13 sections for everything from prayers at meals to thoughts for times of contemplation and holidays, times for children and how to remember the Earth. There also are prayers from around the world, short graces and even prayers for peace and justice. There are some standards included, but also whimsey and some that simply touch the heart. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 31, 1998)


REVIEW: Writer Finds Life Full of Graces. As a young mother, June Cotner wanted to expose her two children to religious and spiritual concepts -- even though they seldom attended church. Dinner time, when they were all gathered around the table, seemed like a good time. Cotner grew up Presbyterian and her family occasionally said grace at meals. Yet saying the same prayer every night seemed rote and eventually meaningless. Cotner noted that in other people's homes people seemed ready to duck under the table when asked who wanted to say grace.

So the Poulsbo, Wash., woman began collecting graces. Whenever she found one she liked, she'd add it to her collection. When the children were small, she'd bring the collection to the table each evening and select one to read. As the children grew older, she'd let them select one.

The book is divided into sections: any gathering, seasonal graces, holidays, family gatherings, American Indian graces, traditional graces, ones that revolved around children or the Earth, musical graces, short graces, international ones and those for peace and justice and contemplation. (The Oregonian, February 24, 1996)

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