Tag Archives: Prayer

The recipe for a Thankgiving prayer that rocks

Stood in line with your 17-pound turkey at the grocery store? Looked up the recipe for green bean casserole? Hauled up your extra chairs from the basement?

I hope, at this point on Thanksgiving week, you’ve done all this and started thawing your turkey in the fridge at least three days ago.

 

I’ve done all these things in anticipation of the nine people I expect to gather around my Thanksgiving table tomorrow. And now I’m thinking about the purpose of the day.

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. Even if you’re not the sort to thank a god, a verbal message of thanks for all to hear is good for, well if not your soul, then your well-being. Gratitude is good.

Have you given any thought to the blessing you want to share around the table? A lot of books and Bibles have perfectly acceptable prayers to say together, if you like, but I like personalizing the prayer. Here’s an outline:

  • Thank the people who gather around your table. Missing someone? Remember them.
  • Acknowledge the sources of your meal (and be thankful you didn’t have to make the ultimate sacrifice).
  • Thank the cooks who prepared the food and, be proactive, thank the people who will help clean up.
  • If you’re spiritual, here’s where you can thank God (in whatever form He or She takes for you).
  • Wrap it up. Amen is a good word. I once heard it meant “I can put my tent stake in that,” which is a powerful statement from a culture of nomads who preferred driving camels to driving tent stakes. Choosing to stay in one place was against their nature, so “I can put my tent stake in that” was a real statement of certainty and approval.

Here’s how it might look:

Before we dive in, let’s take a moment to give thanks. [Hold hands or bow your heads or whatever works in your tribe.] We are thankful to be together around this table on this Thanksgiving Day. We are missing Uncle Wally but we’re thinking of him fondly. We are thankful for the rain and sunshine required to grow this abundance of food and we’re thankful to the turkey who made the ultimate sacrifice to create our table centerpiece. We are thankful to the cooks who toiled to prepare this amazing meal (especially Nina for the pies) and we are thankful to the servant-hearted guests who will help clean it all up later. And finally, we are thankful to God in heaven who makes all these blessings possible. Thanks be to God. Amen.

It doesn’t have to rhyme, it doesn’t have to be recited perfectly and it doesn’t have to be long. Good luck. Have a grateful day.

Thanksgiving poetry as prayer

Perhaps no holiday is more universally suited for a good prayer than Thanksgiving.

Oh sure, religious holidays are suited for prayer, but only if you’re religious and you celebrate that particular holiday (Ramadan, for instance, is celebrated with fasting and prayers, but not being a Muslim, I don’t eat less or pray more during that time of year; the same can be said of Easter — prayer is appropriate for a Christian on that day, but a Buddhist could care less).

The very name of Thanksgiving evokes a prayer, however short: “Thanks.” Who or what you’re thanking is up to the prayful. Jesus? God? Perfect Intelligent Gender-Neutral Designer? The turkey? The point is, we thank someone other than ourselves for the bounty before us and a prayer is the perfect way to do so.

So I like a good prayer on Thanksgiving.

I thought about bringing a bit of poetry as prayer to the Thanksgiving table this year, but the best thing I could find among the selected poems of Seamus Heaney (one of the few poetry books I have on my new bookshelf, for which I am grateful) was from “Terminus”:

When they spoke of the prudent squirrel’s hoard
It shone like gifts at the nativity.

When they spoke of the mammon of iniquity
The coins in my pockets reddened like stove-lids.

I was the march drain and the march drain’s banks
Suffering the limit of each claim.

As I imagined sitting around the Thanksgiving table with my 5-year-old nephew, 19-year-old stepson and 98-year-old grandmother, I decided Seamus Heaney would probably be as well received as Natasha Bedingfield: “Drench yourself in words unspoken/Live your life with arms wide open/Today is where your book begins/The rest is still unwritten.”

Perhaps esoteric and abstract aren’t the best approaches on Thanksgiving.

GracesSo I pulled out my trusty “Graces: Prayers and Poems for Everyday Meals and Special Occasions” by June Cotner. I love this compilation for its beautiful, unique and simple prayers. Among her Thanksgiving prayers is “Thanksgiving Blessings” by Helen Latham:

Lord be with us on this day of thanksgiving
Help us make the most of this life we are living
As we are about to partake of this bountiful meal
Let us not forget the needy and the hunger they feel
Help us to show compassion in all that we do
And for all our many blessings we say thank you

 

Post redux: On prayer, a president and a poll

Long ago, in a galaxy far away (OK, if you must be a stickler, a state far away), I was a radio deejay.

I was in college, and the university had its own radio station, and said radio station had dozens of shelves of vinyl albums (for you tweeners and teens, “albums” were those big black round Frisbees that looked and behaved a lot like music CDs — remember those?).

Anyway, back in the dark ages, radio stations didn’t have recorded satellite announcers, so they required live deejays to introduce various music selections, and volunteer college students looking for experience and possibly class credit were perfect for the position. This radio station provided index cards for various songs with the pertinent information for aspiring deejays to recite, but deejays added personality to their “shows” by ad libbing. And as you might imagine, underpaid and overtired college students came up with plenty of clichés to fill dead air.

That’s a long way to introduce this next post, the clichéd “oldie but goodie,” from Feb. 4, 2010, when the presidential election was but a twinkle in Karl Rove’s eye. Enjoy.

On prayer, a president and a poll
from Feb. 4, 2010

Even if you don’t like President Obama, perhaps you will find his words about prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning to be inspiring.

I am trying to be a better pray-er. One of my resolutions this year was to start each day with prayer. I’ve created a prayer journal (that I am actually using!). I’m reading “A Woman’s Call to Prayer” with my book club. Improving my communication skills with other human beings is a lifetime project, so I expect no less effort is required in improving my communication skills with the Creator. But I am working on it, slowly but surely.

So this morning, as I was running on the treadmill without my headphones, which I managed to forget to bring to the gym, I had to read Obama’s remarks on the closed-captioning on the TV, rather than hear them. But perhaps they were sinking in better for me that way.

He mentioned many topics, including Haiti and health care, but about prayer specifically, he said:

“For while prayer can buck us up when we are down, keep us calm in a storm; while prayer can stiffen our spines to surmount an obstacle — and I assure you I’m praying a lot these days — prayer can also do something else.  It can touch our hearts with humility.  It can fill us with a spirit of brotherhood.  It can remind us that each of us are children of an awesome and loving God.”

Indeed. Love that sentiment.

If you want to read his whole speech, try this website here.

And if you have a thought about prayer, or Obama or Obama’s remarks on prayer, or something else, please comment. But be civil. As Obama said this morning, “Civility also requires relearning how to disagree without being disagreeable.”

On prayer, a president and a poll

Even if you don’t like President Obama, perhaps you will find his words about prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning to be inspiring.

I am trying to be a better pray-er. One of my resolutions this year was to start each day with prayer. I’ve created a prayer journal (that I am actually using!). I’m reading “A Woman’s Call to Prayer” with my book club. Improving my communication skills with other human beings is a lifetime project, so I expect no less effort is required in improving my communication skills with the Creator. But I am working on it, slowly but surely.

So this morning, as I was running on the treadmill without my headphones, which I managed to forget to bring to the gym, I had to read Obama’s remarks on the closed-captioning on the TV, rather than hear them. But perhaps they were sinking in better for me that way.

He mentioned many topics, including Haiti and health care, but about prayer specifically, he said:

“For while prayer can buck us up when we are down, keep us calm in a storm; while prayer can stiffen our spines to surmount an obstacle — and I assure you I’m praying a lot these days — prayer can also do something else.  It can touch our hearts with humility.  It can fill us with a spirit of brotherhood.  It can remind us that each of us are children of an awesome and loving God.”

Indeed. Love that sentiment.

If you want to read his whole speech, try this website:

http://pamshouseblend.com/diary/15103/transcript-remarks-by-the-president-at-the-national-prayer-breakfast

And if you have a thought about prayer, or Obama or Obama’s remarks on prayer, or something else, please comment. But be civil. As Obama said this morning, “Civility also requires relearning how to disagree without being disagreeable.”

Prepare a prayer for dinner

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.

Supper grace

Apparently, only Minnesotans eat supper. Everyone else’s last meal of the day is dinner.

I eat dinner at noon. Sometimes I eat lunch. Maybe it depends on how much effort I put into the meal; leftovers are lunch. Dinner takes work.

Anyway, as our family has gelled together, we have settled on reciting the following grace before supper:

Come, Lord Jesus,
Be our guest.
And let these gifts
To us, be blessed. Amen.

We tried a whole bunch of other graces from the book aptly titled “Graces” by June Cotner, but we haven’t memorized any of them. There is one, though, that is quite nice: 

Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you, God, for everything. Amen.

Meanwhile, Cas is attempting to memorize prayers from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism for his confirmation classes. So we shall try saying this one once in a while:

Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us and these Your gifts which we receive from Your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

No matter what you call the meal, it’s nice to begin by remembering who is responsible for the feast and being grateful.