Grace in the Diner

Grace in the Diner

Billy is a wee boy only three years old, but his eyes are so big and his round little red face is so jolly that whoever sees him wants to take him up and squeeze and kiss him.

All day long he seems happy and gay, and especially is he very polite. He never forgets to say, "Thank you," because he thinks it is right to be grateful.

Billy has his own special way of saying "thank you" to God. His mother taught him a thank-you prayer to say to God when he sits at the table before his dinner. But Billy does not think one prayer is thanks enough to God for his delicious breakfast or his nice dinner.

He likes to say "thank you" several times—not just once. So Billy bows his head over his orange juice at breakfast and repeats his "thank-you prayer" to God.

Later when his hot cereal comes, Billy sees that this is a beautiful new dish of delicious food to be grateful for, so he bows his head and says grace the second time.

Later still, when his mother serves him his steaming boiled egg, Billy bows his head to say the prayer of blessing for the egg. Three prayers of thanks for one breakfast!
One day Billy's mother took him for a long automobile ride, such a long ride that Billy said, "I'm hungry. I can't wait till I get home. I want to eat now."

The only place to get food along that road was a diner, an eating place built like a train-car where men sit up to the counter on high stools without taking off their hats.

Billy sat up on a high stool, too. That was fun.

When his soup was put in front of him, Billy bowed his head and said in his wee little voice:

"God is great and God is good
And we thank him for this food.
By his hand must all be fed;
Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen."

All the men who were sitting there jabbering and eating in a hurry began to look around. Somebody was talking to God—of all things in a diner! Soon they spied Billy's little bowed head and looking very much surprised and ashamed they all stopped talking, took off their hats, and listened until Billy finished his prayer. Then they plopped their hats on their heads again and went back to eating with a rush.

After he had finished his soup, a plate of potato and meat was served to Billy. Billy bowed his head again and said in his wee little voice:

"God is great and God is good
And we thank him for this food.
By his hand must all be fed;
Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen."

The men stopped talking. This time they knew it must be Billy. They looked more surprised than ever, but they could not keep their hats on when a fine little boy was brave enough to say his prayers before strangers. Off came their hats and they listened until Billy had ended his "thank you" to God.

Once more the men plopped their hats back on their heads in a way that seemed to say. "I guess our food has had blessing enough for one meal." But they didn't know Billy.

Soon he was looking at a piece of blueberry pie with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of it. Billy felt if ever he was grateful it was now. He bowed his head a little lower and said in his wee little voice:

"God is great and God is good
And we thank him for this food.
By his hand must all be fed;
Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen."

The men all looked at Billy a long time, then at each other as if to say, "What's going on here? Is this a prayer meeting?" But when they saw that Billy was very sincere and brave, they took off their hats a third time, and some of them even bowed their heads to join Billy in his prayer.

When Billy finished his dinner and got down off the stool, all the men came over to meet Billy, to shake him by the hand, and tell him how glad they were he came into the diner that day. Some of those men had long ago forgotten ever to say "thank you" to God.

Billy did not know what a fine sermon he had preached that day in the diner. He only thought he had said his prayer of thanks as everyone in the wide world should do to such a kind heavenly Father.

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