Celebrating Thanksgiving isn't just about enjoying a big meal with family and friends. It's also about a time to give thanks, no matter your particular religious tradition.
We asked local faith leaders to share a Thanksgiving prayer that can be shared with those you're enjoying a meal with on Thursday, or at any time you're remembering the gifts you've received.
Myron Williams, global outreach pastor, Southland Christian Church —
God of all gods, King of all kings, Lord of all lords, we come during this fall harvest time with gratitude and thanksgiving for who you are and what you do for us. All good gifts come from you, whether material goods; friendships and family; emotional, spiritual, and intellectual health; or simply life itself. For all these we give you thanks.
We live in a land of plenty while so many have so little. Teach us to count our blessings every day, so we can graciously share as you so graciously share with us.
This week as we sit around tables, remind us of the men and women who years ago gave thanks for their new land and the freedoms they enjoyed. Remind us of the men and women who sacrificed their lives for us in a variety of ways, including wars, to set us politically free. Remind us of the men and women who sacrificed their resources so we could benefit from their generosity. May our table time remind us of stories of an ancient faith which we can still embrace and follow into the future.
To you alone belongs all praise, worship, glory and thanksgiving. Amen.
Melissa Bane Sevier, Versailles Presbyterian Church — This week of giving thanks, remind us, O God, of the extraordinary gifts of food and shelter, a warm home, a friend. Turn our hearts toward those for whom these gifts are scarce. Give peace to the grieving, comfort to the sick, renewal to the weary, love to the lonely, and may your people find ways of sharing their gifts with those who have little or nothing. This week when most of us will have more food than we need, we pray for children who go hungry, for the aged who don't have the energy to prepare a meal, for those who live in places where food is hard to come by. May our thanksgiving be infused with your hope for a world where peace is the norm, where all people are accepted and appreciated, where the powerful attend to the needy, where love guides the actions of all.
Ernie Heavin, chaplin, Georgetown College, Georgetown — Sometimes I wish I could take a moment back; a day back; a year or even a decade back, but reality tells me I cannot take even one word back. I can change, apologize and be forgiven, but the record of blunders, offenses and sins are forever inscribed in the memories and lives of those I have encountered. No philosophy, accomplishment or reimbursement can ever settle that debt. So what does my God do? He not only forgives me but takes away the guilt as well.
In return I pray that my family's love will grow for one another as we continue to become more intimate with God. I ask that our thoughts reflect God's thoughts; our words resonate God's words; our ways replicate God's ways. Help us to understand what really matters. Give us insight for what God wants to do for our lives and in our lives. May we always honor and please God every day and in every way be thankful. Teach us to be content. May we one day gaze upon God's face.
The Rev. Kory Wilcoxson, Crestwood Christian Church — My prayer for Thanksgiving is this: Dear God, words are not enough to say "thank you," so help us to follow up our words of gratitude with actions of gratitude. May the way we choose to live our lives, the choices we make, and the way we treat others be a living Thanksgiving to you for all you have done for us. We are blessed beyond measure, so we ask you to help us make our lives a blessing to others. In the midst of violence, help us be peacemakers; in the midst of disasters, help us be beacons of hope; in the midst of scarcity, help us share our abundance. In all things, help us to be your hands, your feet, your heart in this world. Giving God, may our greatest "thank you" be not the words we say one day of the year, but the way we live every day of the year. Amen.
Jim Sichko, priest, St. Mark Catholic Church, Richmond — Gracious God,
with bounty immeasurable you have given us grace upon grace heaped overflowing.
Lavish God, you have rained down more than we realize expect, recognize, know.
Extravagant God, in sight and smell, taste and vision, touch and being, you come daily to delight, embrace, astound.
Eternal God, in those we love forever begins here. Word made flesh, the sacrament of now here and nowhere, all-at-once, uncontainable.
From hearts overflowing, minds saturated in wonder and awe, senses confounded and astounded!
Gifts: gracious, lavish, extravagant, eternal. For more than we know, understand,
or can imagine. .. thank you. Amen
Pastor Rachael Brooks, New Hope Church, Lexington — Gracious God, as we approach the end of our calendar year and enjoy the change of season we thank you for the ordinary. We thank you for the fact that we live in a place where we may still worship you without fear, that we do have everything that we really need, and that we are blessed to live in a time where we may spend an evening in our homes with our families and not feel fear. We also thank you for the extraordinary. We thank you for your beautiful creation of both the land and creatures that fill it, and the mysterious gift of human life, made uniquely in your image. Help us grow in our awareness of the great gifts you have given us and to deeply appreciate what is authentic, good, beautiful and true. Amen.
Pastor Pete Hise, lead pastor at Quest Community Church, Lexington — My family and I are a part of a church that experiences the reality of hope, transformation and love every single day — and it's all evidence of the blessing and abundance of God in our lives. Looking back over 2013, there's so much to be thankful for.
Here's a few things that I know will be heard around the Hise Thanksgiving table this year: "Thank you, Jesus, for loving us enough to die on the cross and forgive us... thank you for the amazing grace we live in." "Thank you, God, that in the middle of a chaotic and unpredictable world, you've given us hope that's a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls." "Thank you, Jesus, for the friends you've surrounded us with and for a church community where anyone is welcome, and where redemption is happening all the time."
Therese Warrick, founder/ministry leader, Sisters Road to Freedom, Inc. — Heavenly Father, With thanksgiving in my heart, this prayer is being lifted up unto you. I thank you for your beautiful creation. You are awesome and magnificent. You are excellent in all your ways and I thank you Father. I thank you for your continued mercy and grace which you give each day even when we do not extend the same mercy and grace toward others.
Thank you for being Jehovah Jireh, our provider. Thank you for providing for those less fortunate than us. Thank you for being our Jehovah Nissi, our banner of love and protection. Please continue to keep families under your protection and guidance. Father, you are our Jehovah Shalom, our perfect peace. Even in times of trouble, you soothe our minds and hearts. Thank you for being Jehovah Rapha, our healer. Thank you for spiritual, physical, and emotional healing.
Father God, I cannot say thank you enough. Thank you for loving us so much that you sent your only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Thank you for salvation and redemption. I pray all these with thanksgiving in my heart, in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
If you are a faith leader interested in joining the Question of Faith panel, contact Sally Scherer at (859) 231-3303 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3303, or firstname.lastname@example.org.