A rollicking Bollywood number bounced jauntily between the aisles. I navigated around the giant jute bags filled with basmati and idli rice, breathing in that quintessential Indian market aroma: spice, sweetness, and earth, wound in a ribbon of incense.
The owner, Vibha, a petite, long-haired lady, with high cheekbones and deep dimples, scanned her khol-rimmed eyes over the shelves, looking for anything out of place. She’d transformed the store from a quiet mart with flickering fluorescent lights into a radiant, bustling market, complete with a kitchen from which emerged the crispiest samosas and a jackfruit curry I still can’t forget. Vibha has been my staunch supporter, talking me through Indian cooking techniques when I was stumped and even providing spices when I cooked for my cookbook release party. I walked over and gave her a hug.
I peeked over her shoulder, taking in the hubbub of the kitchen.
“Wait a minute, Aunty,” I said (In Indian culture, every elder is referred to as “aunty” or “uncle” whether or not you share a bloodline). “None of the people cooking your food are Indian!”
“Yes!” Vibha beamed proudly. “I’ve taught them everything — how to make chutney, dosas, everything! I even taught them to pray before they cook!”
The last part stopped me in my tracks. “You do what before you cook?”
Vibha looked at me as if I’d lost my head. “Ya, of course! I always pray before I cook. Don’t you?”
Thanks to Vibha, I’ve never looked at cooking the same way again.
I began to pray before I cooked. What once felt like a chore was now an exquisite unwinding. That first slice of an onion began to feel like slipping into a warm bath, every muscle relaxing, every breath deepening. My senses were on fire: the specific sizzle of a steak when it’s ready to be flipped, the aroma of spices blooming in hot oil, the almost blinding neon of freshly chopped herbs. Prayer painted my cooking in technicolor.
I was ravenous now, looking for more of the sacred in the kitchen. Flipping through a book on Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, I learned that not only is food our medicine but also its preparation. Chopping vegetables is a moving meditation, soothing our minds and bodies. God tucked medicine even into the mundane. No shade on pre-chopped vegetables, but consider what we’re missing when we don’t do it ourselves. We save ourselves time, but are we cheating ourselves out of healing?
A terrible condition has now become the norm in our kitchens: Dinner must be made in thirty minutes and consumed in even less time. At the same time, we feel stressed, anxious, and disconnected from our loved ones and from God. I remember watching my grandmother cook at our farm in Mangalore, India. It took hours — soaking the lentils, building the fire, toasting the spices, grinding the masala (spice paste) on the ragado (giant grinding stone). It was so ding dang slow. And yet, so much opportunity to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
I may not have my grandmother’s cooking schedule, but I do have time to pray. Prayer necessitates stopping, breathing, stepping out of the hurry of the day. Consecrating my cooking time puts me in a state of gratitude, counting my blessings instead of my woes. It refocuses my heart and melts my anxieties.
Perhaps my greatest motivation to seek the sacred in the kitchen is this: Jesus cooked! Our Lord, in His resurrected body, made His disciples breakfast. Heaven came down, stoked the coals, scaled the fish, and used all His senses, His humanity, to nourish His friends’ stomachs and hearts.
We see in this small act, the core of the Sacred Heart — creation and generosity. Jesus created a meal and shared with His friends. God created the world, and He shared it with us.
Thus, cooking is an invitation to join God in the joy of creation. We’re made in His image, after all. So the thrill of peeling away the hairy skin of a celeriac to reveal its ivory flesh, the happy scent of a freshly cut lemon — He programmed those moments of delight into every creation. This is His delight too, and perhaps it sheds light on God’s delight in creating us.
What a privilege it is to cook, dear hearts! What a magical portal to touch the untouchable, the sacred!
It’s such a kindness, and it’s just like God to say, Nothing you do is beyond My touch. Invite Me into the process, and just as Moses removed his sandals before the burning bush, you’ll realize that you’ve been standing on holy ground the whole time. Perhaps that’s what Paul meant when he wrote the verse that I keep in my kitchen:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)
The simple act of praying showed me that I’d been missing out on the blessings God tucked into the act of preparing food. And if there is holiness in the kitchen, I’d wager there’s probably holiness in the laundry room or in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Inviting Jesus into my kitchen has convinced me of this truth: A taste of heaven is in every earthly bite.Leave a Comment
Linda Sprunt says
Colossians 3:17. “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
I believe the Lord is speaking this to me today. This verse came to my mind while doing my other devotionals this morning and now with this one.
Thank you, Aarti
Aarti Sequeira says
Yes! Such a good verse!
WOW! I have always enjoyed cooking; but never looked at it in those terms. My grandmother loved cooking & everybody who went to see her went home with some cake or something else she had made; but always with the love of God. Thank you for this, Aarti. God bless!
This is so beautiful! You put words to some things I experience when I cook, that I didn’t even realize. I come from a line of family that cook out of enjoyment- my grandma from Italy cooking all day, always having snacks and treats on the table to share with her family and friends,
my dad, who learned from her, taking a whole Saturday to make sauce from scratch, and now me, who watched both, trying to keep that tradition alive and going for my toddler son. Holy ground, indeed. Thank you!
Robin Dance says
My kitchen is my happy place, where every action is a “get-to” opportunity to serve the people I love, know, and can’t wait to know. So, as I’m reading along, it was a surprise to be challenged to do something I’ve never considered: pray as I begin the process. What a lovely practice to inhabit.
But when I got to this line: “Perhaps my greatest motivation to seek the sacred in the kitchen is this: Jesus cooked!” I couldn’t help but smile. It’s an odd juxtaposition, but I immediately thought, “Jesus wept,” the shortest verse recorded in scripture. Both sentences reflect the humanity of Jesus, how he relates to us as human. I’ve never thought about Jesus cooking, and this revelation (that’s been right under my nose) makes me so happy! I am like Him, reflecting His image when I cook! Revolutionary!
So, thank you for challenging and inviting me to new practice and thinking. xoxo
I loved this! Living alone had taken away the joy of being in the kitchen except for the times when I make something to give to my daughter. And the idea of praying before the preparation rather than just before a meal makes such sense. I never thought about Jesus in the kitchen. I have always felt my grandmother’s presence when making something that she did. Now I will think about how I have the company of two special people.
Well you did it! You have surpassed every article I have ever ever read! What an inspiration of motivation
Thank you and let us pray
In Jesus name Amen
Ruth Mills says
Beautiful! As I cut up the gluten free bread for our communion cups I pray that each partaker will truly commune with their Savior. You have now challenged me to pray over the meal prep in my own kitchen. Challenge accepted with great joy & a larger understanding of our Lord! Thank you!!!
Julie Garmon says
I love to cook but have never thought to pray before cooking! Beautiful post. ❤️
Michele Morin says
Accepting God’s invitation to make chocolate cake this morning!
Betsy Wisler says
This article is a gift. I am saving your words and sharing them with some special people so that they may be blessed by your beautiful word pictures as well. Thank you for helping us to draw near to the ever present love of our Lord. Blessings to you.
Some of my best memories are made in a kitchen, from my grandparents to my childhood home to my own with my grandbabies. While I have a heart full of good ones, this devotion will change that going forward. Ive missed a lot of meals that could have been blessings. I’ve saved this in a ton of places so I’ll never lose it and sent and shared it with all my family and friends….now I’m off to cook breakfast…and pray! ♥️
Joan Payne says
Living alone, eating is a quickie with no before thought on even eating a proper planned meal. This message including prayer before preparation, stopped me in my tracks. I can even savor God’s meal for me before hand and honor Him in prayer.
Eating well is a gift from God, too. As i just read this message, I, definitely, will begin practicing the prayer time. After all,
God provides the food. Thank you for a new learning experience.
I love this so much! Cooking is a beautiful expression of love for family and friends. Absolutely, let’s invite God into the process!
I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian and it is our way to pray before doing any major task, especially cooking:
Lord Jesus Christ, You have said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” In faith I embrace Your words, Lord, and I entreat Your goodness. Help me to carry out the work I am about to begin, and to bring it to completion. To You I give glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Donna Tuttle says
I have always prayed before I cook, during my cooking and after. God has been in my kitchen since I was 5 years old – slicing the apples with me, baking the pies, sprinkling the cajun spices, battering the fish and blessing me. It is my passion far away from corporate America. It is how I show my love, and because of that, God has always been present.
Becky Keife says
“It’s such a kindness, and it’s just like God to say, Nothing you do is beyond My touch.” Yes, every word! Thank you, Aarti, for transporting us to your market, your kitchen, and to the heart of our kind, intimate, available God.
Thank you so much for this beautiful post. I recognize that I jump into the task of cooking without taking the time to allow God’s presence to fill me and anoint this act of holy preparation and love for my family, and just as importantly, the act of self love. You have inspired me with a new recognition of His love for me. Thank you again.
Karen Purkey says
What a joyful blessing to read your words this morning. I read this devotional to my husband as well. We have been doing so much more cooking together during the pandemic. I look forward to bringing the Lord into our experience. You have blessed us with your words today.
Jennifer L Johnson says
As I was reading I thought “this must be an Aarti post lol! I’m no good in the kitchen and my prayer is that God will bring me a man who knows how to cook.
Wow! This was truly an epiphany! As a mother of 8 with a small budget, I cooked out of necessity. I didn’t enjoy it initially, but through the years I’ve learned to enjoy it and it blesses me to now cook only for my husband and myself. I am constantly asking the Lord to show me Himself and it never occurred to me to look for Him in the kitchen. This changes the way I will approach creating in the kitchen in the future. It will become holy. This article is a paradigm shift for me going forward.
Jehovah-Jirah. God IS our Provider. What a reminder. Praying calms our hearts and minds. God is in our kitchens. Lovely.
Oh my goodness, we are having my sons 30th birthday celebration tonight. My younger son and I just finished preparing all the food, chopping, cutting, rolling. All done with Gods love for each other and in joy and thankfulness. Thank you for this very beautiful reminder.
This is gorgeously written and I can’t wait to share it. Thank you! Also, I’m looking forward to making something good to eat this evening!
LOVE THIS! I really enjoy cooking but sometimes look at it as a chore. Praying beforehand will make a huge difference. Thank you for sharing, Aarti!
I just love your posts. You are such a poetic writer. Thank you Aarti!
As I began to read this, I sensed the Lord tell me to slow down and be deeply present. I felt His presence as I read your words Aarti. I am a stay home Mom of 5 kidlets. Cooking is something I do all day, every day. Sometimes I love it and sometimes not. As the years have gone by, I have learned to love the simpliciy of cooking foods from scratch. Buying huge bags of dried lentils, pinto beans, kidney beans, rice ect. I have learned to can from my Mother in Law. So taking the time to peel pears, and many peaches……….having the blessing of time to think and reflect and hear God speaking to me as I peel, make syrup and then cook. Everything about cooking is soulful. The Friday we just had, there was a funeral for a family friend. A very sad day. Yesterday morning as I was making breakfast cake to celebrate Sabbath morning, the Lord impressed me to bake some for the grieving family as well and take it over to them. My thoughts were………..”there is so much love put into cooking/baking”. So with a happy heart I doubled my recipe and once it was baked traveled over there and presented the cake baked with love. I pray that they felt Jesus love as they at it. I love the idea of praying before I start to cook. For years now, I wake up in the morning and ask the Lord,”Father, what’s for supper tonight?” And I wait til he tells me what to cook. Your idea takes this a step further. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful thoughts, memories, smells and experiences of falling in love with cooking. In my minds eye I pictured myself there beside you. Bless you, and thank you.
Beth Williams says
Cooking is my happy dance. Absolutely love creating delicious dishes for others to enjoy. You really got me thinking about praying before & during the process. Usually have the radio on Christian music so I cook & praise God at same time.
Like you I have read scripture where Jesus had breakfast for His disciples. Never did it occur to me to say “Jesus cooked.” He was fully God & fully man so He understood our need for nourishment. Now I will join God in the creation process & pray about the recipients before hand.
Ruth Mills says
I made chocolate chip cookies for a younger Sunday school class on Sat. I prayed as I added each ingredient that it would be equated to an aspect of their walk with Jesus. Thank you again for the inspiration!
Wow. I am the principal chef for our family (including 3 teens) but if food prep is taking a long time, I get grumpy. I have never enjoyed cooking but believe in creating nutritious and healthy meals for my family so I take the time and energy to meal plan each week and cook from scratch. This blog post has totally changed my view: I believe God has pointed this out to me to change my heart and my attitude. Thanks!
I enjoyed reading this as I DO cook. Most things turn out but there is always the bad day Why not pray as we prepare! A good challenge for me. Thank you!
Bonnie Mitchell says
I have always loved watching you on the cooking shows. Finding out today your love for God in your cooking fills my heart. God bless you my dear Sister. You are very special to me even though we have never met.
Thank you, Aarti! Your words are so true. From preparation to presentation, the process of creating a meal for others brings us closer together and closer to God.
Thank you, Aarti ❤️
Becky Sanchez says
Thank you for sharing this, I truly appreciate and enjoyed this!
Robyn Bower says
I loved watching this this also …you are a lovely person and to share something so deep with in you has such a strong showing of who you really are …not just a Chef but a God loving person …thank you for be your self and not a Fake person …I love your dishes too !! Keep it up !
Cooking, baking was a passion but since the loss of my husband dinner has become a chore to prepare for just me and my son. Your words touched me deeply, thank you Aarti!