There you are, gathered around the Thanksgiving table. It’s time to say a prayer to thank God for our blessings. How does your family do this? Some families ask each person to name out loud something they are thankful for. In some families the task falls to one member of the family — perhaps the patriarch or matriarch of the family. Some families join hands and recite a prayers they traditionally pray at mealtime. There really is no wrong way to pray and give thanks to God.
I’d like to suggest a way that you could personally prepare a prayer of thanks and whether you pray it at the thanksgiving table or just in your heart, it relies on ancient words to guide our thoughts of gratitude.
Step one: take a piece of paper and list five things you are thankful for. Step two: Plug those five things into Psalm 138 where a blank line is indicated below:
I thank you Lord, with all my heart
because you have heard what I said.
In the presence of the angels I play for you and bow down towards your holy temple.
I give thanks to your name for ________________
and for _______________
Your promise is even greater than your name.
The day I called for help, you heard me
And you gave me _________________
Though I live surrounded by trouble
you keep me alive despite the wrath of my enemies.
You stretch out your hand and save me.
You bless me with ________________
and with ________________
Lord, your love is everlasting!
In just a few minutes you have joined your gratitude with the thanksgiving prayers of countless generations.
If you’re called upon to lead a thanksgiving meal prayer, you can use this prayer.
Or print out the psalm with the blank lines, make copies and give them to the kids and grandkids so they can fill in the things they appreciate. In the course of the evening, let them share these prayers with each other by either reading them out loud or passing the papers to each other.
When a whole family or group of friends use this method of praying, it helps each person to be even more appreciative of blessings they hadn’t considered previously. It is easy to take things for granted and sharing prayers of thanks can attune our attitudes toward enhanced gratitude for even the simplest things as breathing and walking.
This form of praying with a psalm can also help personally us beyond Thanksgiving Day, especially on “bad days” when we are experiencing sadness or distress. By acknowledging at least five things to be grateful for, our attention is moved from focusing on our troubles to recognizing our blessings. And we are indeed blessed!