A Meaningful and Non-Awkward Way to Give Thanks

I thought the following was a fantastic idea from J.D. Walt at Seedbed, good enough that I thought I needed to repost it here. A lot of us sincerely want to give thanks in a meaningful way with our families on Thanksgiving, but our efforts to do so are often less meaningful than we had hoped. This is absolutely worth a shot:

Six Steps to a Great Thanksgiving Gathering Prayer

Posted on November 25, 2013 by 

The Thanksgiving holiday often produces a sense of awkwardness when it comes to actually giving thanks before the big family feast. The “standard meal prayer” just doesn’t seem to do justice to the occasion.  And the “let’s all say what we are thankful for” routine tends to peter out after the more extroverted family members take their turns. Then there’s that MSP in every family (“Most Spiritual Person”) who likes to get the stage on these occasions to further demonstrate their spiritual prowess, often with some kind of pre-prayer reading from the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul release. A final common approach is to just turn to the designated family patriarch to offer the “standard meal prayer on steroids.” (see Phil on Duck Dynasty). And we won’t mention the infamous Ricky-Bobby Prayer.

Despite our best and most sincere intentions, whatever we choose to do to mark the occasion can easily turn out to be a more obligatory formality than anything else. Then it’s on to the annual ritual of overeating and not actually watching a Dallas Cowboys football game. It’s fascinating how a holiday designed to invite profound giving of gratitude to God so easily degenerates into ritualized consumption. Then there’s “Black Friday,” or Thursday is the new Black Friday!”

This Thanksgiving holiday, our family is going to try an experiment in biblical thanksgiving. Psalm 136provides an ancient format that can inspire spontaneous individual expressions of thanksgiving while also enabling others to participate in a more hearty yet less conspicuous corporate response. You remember Psalm 139- it’s the one that says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.” And then the group response, “His love endures forever.” The Psalm gives us some prescribed things to remember and give thanks for while at the same time giving us a framework or pattern to offer more present day expressions of gratitude.

Here’s the six steps to the plan: [Read the rest at Seedbed.]