Friday, November 20, 2015
Thanksgiving Day Prayer
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord! Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into His presence with singing!
He is God!
He made us!
We are His!
Come with thanksgiving!
He is good!
His love lasts forever!”
I’ll never forget Tony telling me about the proverbial “church lady” who complained about the earthy language in his prayers. He responded, “Listen, lady, I wasn’t talking to you!”
Indeed, while we are often privileged to pray with others or lead corporate prayers, prayer is very, very, very personal; coming from our hearts to Him.
My home pastor, The Rev. Harold F. Mante (RIP), urged our confirmation class, “Just talk to Him. He doesn’t care about your grammar or language or stammering or stuttering or anything. Just talk to Him.”
I recalled the preceding and experienced the freedom to converse candidly yet respectfully with our Father when I heard Him say to me just before leading a corporate prayer on a Sunday that I had sculpted on a Friday, “Bob. Bob! We went over that on Friday! Don’t you have anything new to talk about with Me today? This is not a show! This is not a religion. This is a relationship. Let’s talk!”
Since then, I find myself sometimes praying corporately, “Well, Lord, I know this is coming through me; and the language and content may not reflect the praise and thanks and confessions and beggings of the folks gathered here. So if it applies, that’s great! If not, do Your thing with them apart from my interference…”
BTW, I often refer to God as Father in “my” prayers with “our” family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois; and when challenged by somebody, you know, caught up in, you know…., I share a little story about a friend who was thusly challenged by an ecclesiastical bureaucrat in Rochester, New York many, many, many years ago during a vetting interview as part of a church’s search for a new pastor. After praying as requested - I guess to grade how he prays rather than actually pray – she said, “I was offended by your use of ‘Father’ for God in your prayer.” My buddy replied kindly yet directly, “Well, if it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”
So this will be my prayer on Thanksgiving Day; and if the shoe fits…
As I try to count Your blessings to us in time, I can’t improve upon Ralph Waldo Emerson: “For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything Your goodness sends.”
Yes, I thank You for everything and everyone that bring pleasure and safety in time.
I know I could never count all of the blessings that You have graced upon us in time; but these come to mind: America with still enough people who really want to be one nation under You, churches like ours that still love You by the book, and the help of Your Holy Spirit to be faithful as true thanksgiving whenever and wherever with whomever.
As we begin this feast, help us not only to remember the hungry but also to embrace ways to feed them.
As we celebrate the safety and security of our homes, help us not only to remember those around the globe who are being persecuted by the accomplices of evil but also to do everything that we can to prevent them from being persecuted.
As we revel in our contented comfort, help us not only to remember the challenged and discomforted but also to labor for their total welfare.
Of course, we give our highest praise and thanks to You for the greatest blessing of all that transcends time and place: eternal life in heaven by grace through faith in Jesus.
Knowing the privileges in time are fixed in time and often forfeited by our mismanagement or stolen by greed and not shared equally by all, we praise You and thank You that peace and joy are infinitely more dependent upon a personal relationship with You than existential circumstances that do not last forever.
Your love – Praise You! Praise You! Praise You! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! – lasts forever!
That’s why we want to live in gratitude as we pray in the name of Jesus.
Blessings and Love!