Prayers of Thanksgiving
by Emily Vanden Heuvel
God’s Unchanging Nature
When the season of summer changes to autumn; the nights are longer, the days are cooler, and the leaves are turning color. The dramatic beauty of the changing seasons is a tangible reminder of God’s creativity. I remember how much he cares for me as I walk in the woods, noticing how God cares for the birds overhead with their migration patterns. It can be challenging to remember God’s faithfulness in the midst of a world that feels unsettled and chaotic, yet God’s unchanging nature in the midst of changing seasons gives me so much hope.
Giving Thanks to God
What a gift it is to rest on the promise of God’s perfect timing as the sun rises and sets and as seasons change! One way to respond to God’s gifts, trustworthiness, and provisions is through prayer. Our thanksgiving is an essential part of prayer. E.M. Bounds, an author and preacher from the late 1800s, wrote this about prayers and thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving is just what the word itself signifies—the giving of thanks to God. It is giving something to God in words which we feel at the heart for blessings received… Wherever there is true prayer, there thanksgiving and gratitude stand hard by, ready to respond to the answer when it comes. (E.M. Bounds on Prayer, pp.96, 98)
It’s easy to pray thankful prayers for big specific answers to requests like a new job, a restored relationship, or healing from sickness. But we often forget to thank God for the gifts that we easily overlook. Have you ever thanked God for the beauty of trees? Have you ever stopped to praise God for the ability to smell or taste something delicious? Have you ever been led to pray for thanksgiving after a warm embrace from a loved one?
Creating a “Top Five” List
The apostle Paul tells the church in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” How do we establish the rhythm of giving thanks in all circumstances? One suggestion is to start a daily habit of writing down five things you are thankful for. Keep this “Top Five” list handy so you can make a different list of things the next day. If this seems like a challenging task, please read Psalm 147 for some inspiration. After a week take a look at your list, and reflect on God’s good gifts. How did he surprise you? Was there anything on your list that was repeated?
A prayer for the Thanksgiving Meal
Thanksgiving is a perfect time to start a new habit of creating a “Top Five” list of things to thank God for. You could read Psalm 147 out loud and create a list with your friends and family as you sit down for the holiday meal. Have each person say one or two things they are thankful for, then write them down on a piece of paper, and hang it up somewhere everyone will see it. During and after the meal invite everyone to add to the list—as the day goes on, you may need to add more pages. At the end of the day, take a look at the list you created and thank God for his very good gifts. I invite you to share your “Top Five” with the ReFrame Prayer Team here so we can continue to celebrate the very good things God is doing.
Giving Thanks to God for Everything!
Prayers of thanksgiving are central to our prayer life. We give thanks in prayer because God the Father always provides for us, Jesus the Son offers us salvation, and the Holy Spirit empowers us to grow in our faith. And we know the grace of God only because of his goodness and faithfulness to us. May you give thanks to God for the many good things he has done!
Click here to download Thanksgiving Table Cards from our sister ministry, Family Fire. Use them during your Thanksgiving meal to help deepen your gratitude to God and love for one another.