Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise; *
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.
Psalm 100:3 (BCP)
Dear Friends in Christ,
As we look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday next week, let’s consider the place of giving thanks in our prayers. The Catechism in the prayer book includes thanksgiving in its list of the different kinds of prayer. But in the Prayers of the People, prayers of petition and intercession (asking of God for ourselves or for others) seem to dominate. The prayer book allows for some creativity in the Prayers of the People, so we have adapted ours at St. Peter and St. Paul to include thanksgivings. Have you noticed, however, how many things we ask of God, and how few thanks we tend to offer in our worship services? We have a long list of requests, but when there is space made for people to voice their thanksgivings, we often hear silence.
In recent years, we started to add at least one specific thanksgiving of the community in our prayers each week. But (as is true of the petitions), the people are free to speak aloud their own thanksgivings. What do you thank God for? Would you be willing to share it aloud when we pray together? Sometimes such thanksgivings become recognition of people and what they have done. Instead of that, consider what is it that God has done, that we might thank him? If you are blessed by another person, what was God’s role in providing that blessing? The more we look for God’s blessing in our life, and the more we take time to thank God for these blessings, the more we will see of God’s activity in our lives, and the closer we will walk with God, opened to more and more of the blessing God has to give.
What sorts of things does God do? Here are a few general ways in which God blesses us:
God teaches us, reveals himself to us, enlightens us in prayer and Holy Scripture.
God gives us wisdom and guidance and understanding.
God heals us.
God speaks to us in prayer and through other praying people.
God provides resources for us.
God protects us and gives us safety.
God leads us to experiences that form and shape us and prepare us for life.
God gives us relationships where we can give and/or receive God’s grace.
God changes hearts and minds (hopefully our own!).
God arranges circumstances in extraordinary ways.
God works through communities of people in quiet ways over time.
God calls, equips and moves people to share his grace and mercy (including you!).
What more could you add? How, specifically, is God acting in your life these days? Spend time in prayer looking for this insight, and when you discover God’s blessings, be sure to pray prayers of thanksgiving!
Yours in Christ,