Perhaps by now you’ve planned your Thanksgiving dinner. Even if it’s only in your head.
If you’re going to someone else’s house, you probably know what you’re going to be bringing to share.
Maybe you’ve looked up the recipes, watched Food Network, ordered your turkey or your pies, made your grocery list.
But you given any thought to the blessing you want to share around the table?
If you have any interest in praying or God at all, you surely must say a prayer at Thanksgiving. It is, after all, a holiday about giving thanks. Sure, you probably thank the people who come to visit, and you thank the cooks who help with food and you thank the people who help clean up. (I hope you thank them.) But if you’re spiritual, I hope you’re thanking God (in whatever form He or She takes for you), too.
A lot of books and Bibles have perfectly acceptable prayers to say together, if you like, but I like personalizing the prayer.
A few years ago, after my nephew had recovered from very scary battle with leukemia, and my brother-in-law was called back to work after being laid off as a pilot and my second nephew had been born a few months earlier, I wrote this prayer for our family Thanksgiving:
We begin with three verses from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
On this bright, beautiful Thanksgiving Day, God, we thank you for the circumstance of good health that allows us all to be together today. God, we thank you for the circumstance of meaningful employment in all its expected and unexpected forms and for the joys of retirement. God, we thank you for the circumstances that bring us to this table today, especially the fellowship of family and the miracle of birth. And we fondly remember those members of our family who can’t be with us today. And finally, God, we thank you for the circumstances that brought this wonderful feast to our table, especially the sacrifice of the turkey and the hard work of the cooks. God, let us be joyful, be prayerful and be thankful on this festive day. Amen
I have a friend (and regular blog reader) whose brother recently died suddenly. An uncle of mine — my mother’s brother — also died earlier this year. Those events reminded me of another prayer I wrote about a decade ago, this time for the Christmas, in honor of my brother, Curt, who died earlier in the year:
A Christmas Prayer
God, grant us strength and peace on this Christmas Day. We celebrate the birth of Christ today and also the life and the love we shared with one who cannot be among us — he is our son, our brother, our brother-in-law and our uncle.
As Joseph, who failed to make reservations and arrived late, heard “There is no room at the inn,” we think of Curt and how he piqued our anticipation with his often-late arrival.
As choirs of angels marked the day with songs of glory, we think of Curt and the humor he brought to life with his meandering stories and his laughter.
As the three wise men brought gifts to honor the Almighty, we think of the gift of Curt’s presence, no longer in body but in spirit.
Curt’s memory lives on in our hearts and in the acts of goodness performed in his name. Bless this family on this Christmas holiday. Amen.
I hope these prayers inspire you to prepare something special — or traditional, or unique, or whatever — but prepare something you can say around the holiday table as you gather with your family.