When many of us gather for Thanksgiving on Thursday, someone will say a prayer before eating. Some pray for specific needs, like an aunt who is praying for a sick nephew, or a son mourning his father. It might be a prayer shared for generations or one that's read from a book.
For our Question of Faith, we asked readers and members of the Kentucky.com Faith Blog Network: What will be your Thanksgiving prayer this year?
Here are some of the ones they shared that have a universal message that could be adapted to your family this year:
The Rev. Jim Sichko, St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, Richmond: My church family and I gather together each year on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. As we come to the point in the liturgy for us to share specific intentions, I invite the people to simply name out loud in a spontaneous fashion what they are thankful for in one word. It becomes a symphony of praise and thanks.
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Esther Hurlburt, Lexington: This is a portion of one of my all-time favorite Thanksgiving prayers. I have shared it many times over the years, and it always brings smiles. It was written by a Unitarian Universalist minister, the Rev. Max Coots:
Let us give thanks ...
For feisty friends as tart as apples;
For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;
For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn — and the others — as plain as potatoes, and so good for you.
For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;
For loving friends, who wind around as like tendrils, and hold us despite our blights, wilts and witherings;
And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past, that have been harvested — but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter;
For all these we give thanks. Amen.
Gage Mitchell, 10, Lawrenceburg: My aunt taught me this prayer when I was about 4 years old, and it is the prayer that I say at every Thanksgiving:
For all our food and gifts of love,
We give thee thanks and praise.
Look down, O Father, from above,
And bless us all our days.
The traditional Boone family prayer of Carroll Pillsbury Boone, from 1907: Heavenly Father, we thank you for our many blessings. Help us to use them to the glory of your holy name. Bless this food to our use and us to thy service. Keep us ever mindful of the needs of others. In Christ's name we ask, Amen.
Myron Williams, Southland Christian Church, Lexington: Raised in a Christian home we always prayed at mealtime, so Thanksgiving was no different. Once married we continued this tradition.
We simply said thank you, and allowed the one praying to determine for what that thanks included.
Conversations around the Thanksgiving table include the past year, the coming year, the blessings received, the joys and sorrows experienced, and a good bit of laughter.
Kory Wilcoxson, Crestwood Christian Church, Lexington: The prayer before the Thanksgiving meal has been a time for us to reflect on the blessings bestowed upon us in the past 12 months.
Each person who will gather around the table will be invited to share one thing for which they are thankful in the past year. This litany of gratitude becomes our prayer to God.
Joseph N. Greenfield, Help Me to Live Again Ministries Inc., Wilmore: My prayer this Thanksgiving will be for those who are searching. Many are the faces of those who long for answers to life's most probing questions.
Many are those who long for value, direction, purpose and meaning in life. Many are those who long for hope, for healing, and yes, even for true love. Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving, and search no more.
Linda Ashley, Richmond: This is a poem my mother memorized in second grade at Brown Memorial School in Mount Vernon, in 1916. She could still quote it when she died, in 1991. This little poem, written by Eugene Field, has been heard at our Thanksgiving table many times over the years:
Pies of pumpkin, apple, mince.
Jams and jellies, peach and quince,
Purple grapes and apples red,
Cakes and nuts and gingerbread —
Turkey — Oh, a great big fellow!
Fruits all ripe and rich and mellow —
Everything that's nice to eat,
More than I can now repeat —
We must thank the one who gave
All the good things that we have.
That is why we keep the day
Set aside, our mothers say,
Rachael Brooks, New Hope Church, Lexington: The Thanksgiving holiday is a special blessing because it is a time when we are able to share with those who might not recognize the blessings that God has given them.
I am grateful for a wonderful and healthy family, for a supportive and faithful church family, for the direction that God has given me as I serve him, and that I live in a place and time where an ordinary day means living in safety, being fed, clothed, housed, and loved, and having people to give my love to.
Pete Hise, Quest Community Church, Lexington: There's so much to be thankful for. Here are a few things that I know will be heard around the Hise Thanksgiving table this year:
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.
God has overwhelmed us with his goodness this year; I can't wait to recount his faithfulness and honor him together around our table this year.