The Challenge of Our Thanksgiving Prayers

18 Nov

When I served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Elm Mott, one of the men in my church gifted me with my own personal copy of the Book of Common Prayer. He actually signed it “to the Bishop of Elm Mott.” For my fellow Baptists, the Book of Common Prayer is the worship guide book of the Episcopal Church. It contains suggested order of services for worship services, weddings, and funerals. It also contains prayers and daily scripture readings. I have been using the lectionary of daily readings for the last decade as my guide to the daily reading of Scriptures. You can find the complete text online.

The following is the prayer for thanksgiving found in the Book of Common Prayer:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side. We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us. We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone. Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom. Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

The Book also has liturgical readings designed to be used in a corporate worship setting. This particular reading alternates between the reader and the congregation. I offer it to you to challenge you to examine whether or not you could offer the suggested response. Would you be able to say, “We thank you, Lord” with your full heart to each of the following statements?

Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us.
For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea.
We thank you, Lord.
For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.
For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends,
We thank you, Lord.
For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.
For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.
For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.
For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
We thank you, Lord.
For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.
Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;
To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

If our hearts cannot give the full “We thank you, Lord” to each of the above statements, then we have the challenge of Thanksgiving before us. Therefore, this week is not just about good food and family, but about learning to be thankful to the Lord for “all things” (1 Thessalonians 5.18).

More on that tomorrow.

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Posted by on November 18, 2009 in Uncategorized


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