Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of every November. It is a day to give thanks for the blessings they've received over the past year.
It is a holiday rich in symbolism. On Thanksgiving, American families sit down with loved ones and dine on traditional Thanksgiving fare — turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.
The Bible tells us that we should “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians: 5:18).
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to spend with your family and loved ones to reflect upon and be grateful for all the blessings you've received from God.
In this article, we’ll look at the reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving. We’ll also look at a selection of inspirational prayers you can use to show your gratitude to Heavenly Father for all the blessings He’s given you.
When we offer a prayer of thanks on Thanksgiving, we express our gratitude to God for all the blessings He's given us.
The tradition of giving thanks arose from people giving thanks for bountiful harvests. Thanksgiving is, in a sense, a harvest festival, which dates back to the time of the Pilgrims.
We can turn to the Bible to see the importance of giving thanks, especially to God. The Book of Psalms especially has many sections offering praise to God and thankfulness for blessings:
“You are my God, and I will praise you. You are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 118:28-29).
Thanksgiving was first celebrated by the Pilgrims in Virginia in 1621, a year after they arrived in the New World from England after a hazardous Atlantic Ocean sea journey on the Mayflower.
On the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims thanked God for their safe deliverance, their children’s health, the fertility of their fields, and their faith which bound them to God.
Psalm 107 has often been called the “Pilgrims’ Psalm,” as this simple Bible verse gives thanks to God for his mercy in protecting seafarers and mariners during lengthy and hazardous sea voyages.
The Pilgrims used Psalm 107 to express their gratitude to God for delivering them safely to their new home in America.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).
Psalm 107 also talks about the Hebrews who were wandering desert wastelands, finding nowhere to settle. Their wandering was similar to that of the Pilgrims.
The people asked God for help, and “he delivered them from their distress. He led them … to a city where they could settle.” (Psalm 107:6-7).
This powerful scripture is a prayer of thanksgiving, thanking God for rescuing the “redeemed,” God’s chosen people, after a difficult journey.
There are many ways to show gratitude to our Lord during Thanksgiving, apart from simply enjoying a family meal and asking loved ones what they’re grateful for.
You might want to spend the holiday volunteering to help others to make the Thanksgiving Day holiday brighter for someone less fortunate.
You could also invite someone who's lonely or without family to your Thanksgiving table.
You could prepare a second Thanksgiving meal to give to a family who's unable to provide one for themselves. In this way, you are making the Thanksgiving holiday brighter for folks who might be struggling.
The annual Thanksgiving holiday is a time for families to come together and enjoy a carefully prepared meal. At this dinner, you can get the whole family involved in a special prayer of gratitude.
Thanksgiving is also a time to strengthen your faith as you give thanks to God for your blessings over the past year. Make Thanksgiving a powerful time of reflection and prayer.
The Bible is one of the first places we should turn to learn how to speak with God and express our gratitude to Him.
If you want to cultivate a grateful heart over the Thanksgiving holiday, consider Ephesians 5:19-20:
“Lord, open my eyes so that I can see all that I have to be thankful for. Enable me to recognize Your hand of blessing in my day-to-day life. Help me to express gratitude to You daily, for that is Your will.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Psalm 100 is another Thanksgiving favorite that demonstrates the value of gratitude:
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the Earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Along with Bible study, prayer is a powerful way to connect with God. Here are 11 of our favorite Thanksgiving prayers you can share with family and friends over the holidays:
“We thank you for the turkey, the gravy, and the dressing. Dear Lord, this table overflows with Thy abundant blessing. Let us always be aware that all gifts come from You, and may we serve Your heavenly will in everything we do. Amen.” (Joanna Fuchs)
“Heavenly Father, thank you for all the blessings you give me. During this Thanksgiving season, as I look at all you have done for me, I am overwhelmed. Most of all, I thank you for sending Your only Son to die for me. Thank you for raising Him from the dead and that He now is seated with you in heaven. Thank you for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, whereby I can feel Your presence. May I always hunger to spend time with you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.” (Joan Walker Hahn)
“Thank you, God, for the food we are about to eat, for those who are here to share these blessings, for the generosity of our hosts that make this possible. Bless those who are here and those who are in our hearts, and all those who are not as fortunate on this day. Amen.” (Patricia Gore)
“We thank you, Lord, for food and friends, and for all of the joy this holiday lends. It's Thanksgiving Day and we can see the blessings you've provided our family. Thanks to you, Lord, for another good year; When you watch over us, there's nothing to fear.” (Karl Fuchs)
“Dear God, Thank you for your amazing power and work in our lives, thank you for Your goodness and for Your blessings over us. Thank you for your great love and care. Thank you for your sacrifice so that we might have freedom and life. Forgive us for when we don't thank you enough, for who you are, for all that you do, for all that you've given. Help us to set our eyes and our hearts on you afresh. Renew our spirits, fill us with Your peace and joy. We love you and we need you, this day and every day. We give you praise and thanks, for you alone are worthy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.” (Debbie McDaniel)
“Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for manifold blessings—let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals—and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world. On this day let us gather in sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.” (John F. Kennedy)
“Heavenly Father, on Thanksgiving Day, we bow our hearts to you and pray. We give you thanks for all you've done, especially for the gift of Jesus, Your Son. For beauty in nature, Your glory we see, for joy and health, friends, and family. For daily provision, Your mercy and care, these are the blessings You graciously share. So today we offer this response of praise with a promise to follow You all of our days.” (Mary Fairchild)
“Dear God, for each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything thy goodness sends. Amen.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
“Thank you God for all that grows, thank you for the sky's rainbows. Thank you for the stars that shine, thank you for these friends of mine. Thank you for the moon and sun, thank you God for all you've done!” (Author unknown)
“Father, we thank you for your abundant mercy and grace toward us. We honor you this day as we gather together in a family full of gratitude. We thank you for this meal and the hands that prepared it. We thank you for your bountiful provisions. We ask that you equip and encourage us to serve others who are in need. May we be good stewards of your creation and of all our talents and blessings. We proclaim glory and honor to you. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.” (Madge P. Williams)
“Dear Lord Jesus, Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude to God, our Creator and Provider, whose guidance and care go before us, and whose love is with us forever. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the changes, to remember that we, too, grow and change from one season of life to another. Thanksgiving is a time of changing seasons, when leaves turn golden in autumn's wake and apples are crisp in the first chill breezes of fall. Let us remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving. As we see the beauty of autumn, let us acknowledge the many blessings which are ours, let us think of our families and friends, and let us give thanks in our hearts.” (Author unknown)