Thanksgiving Prayer: Is there an official Thanksgiving Prayer?
A Thanksgiving prayer brings to mind a festive table filled with turkey, cranberries, and other traditional dishes. Families surround the table with mouths watering as young cousins eyeball pumpkin pies with whipped cream. Before the turkey is carved, the family joins hands with heads bowed and offers words of thanks for the meal spread before them.
There is no official ‘Thanks to God’ but prayers of gratitude have been offered since long before the 1620 American tradition began. It is the source by which the Pilgrims decided to begin with a prayer of thanks at this historic feast shared with the Wampanoag Indians. Years later, both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving history with their Thanksgiving proclamations.
Thanksgiving Prayer: Where did the idea come from?
For a way to express their thankfulness for survival and the first harvest, the deeply religious Pilgrims looked to the Bible. They found the celebrated Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), or Feast of Ingathering. The ingathering of Israelites (delivered from the desert of Sinai) and their harvest were celebrated in this feast and is the most joyous of all feasts still today (Leviticus 23).
Another reference to giving thanks is found in the account of ‘setting’ what Samuel called the Ebenezer Stone. This was a memorial to remind them to be grateful for God’s help during an attack from the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:10-12). Actually, the Bible speaks of giving thanks nearly from cover to cover. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
All early celebrations had one common theme -- God. Thanksgiving was directed toward God, their Creator, Protector, and Provider. They believed that all good things ultimately came from Him as they do today. Other verses that include thanks can be read in Psalm 100:4, Psalm 105:1 and 1 Corinthians 15:57.
Thanksgiving Prayer: How to offer prayers of giving Thanks
Prayers are simply communication to God. They may be a memorized or formal prayer, or they may be words spoken simply but sincerely from the heart. God hears and honors them all (see 1 John 5:14).
A simple children’s prayer goes like this:
Thank you God for all that grows,
Thank you for the sky's rainbows,
Thank you for the stars that shine,
Thank you for these friends of mine,
Thank you for the moon and sun,
Thank you God for all you've done!
A Thanksgiving Day prayer, by Brian F. King, says:
O Lord, with humble hearts we pray
Thy blessing this Thanksgiving Day
And ask that at table place,
Where grateful folk say words of grace,
That Thou will come to share the yield
Thy bounty gave to farm and field.
We pray thy love will bless, O Lord,
Each hearth, each home, each festive board;
And that Thy peace will come to stay
Where candles glow, Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving Prayer: Writing your own Thanksgiving prayer
Do you desire to lead your family in a Thanksgiving prayer? Consider these questions as a way of preparing for your prayer:
What were the major events that took place in your family this year?
Did your family grow in number, through weddings or births?
Did your family experience hard times? If so, consider what you learned from each situation.
Who are the members of your family? Name one quality that you’re thankful for in each person.