A Prayer About Giving Thanks When Life’s Hard
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Lord Jesus, how I praise you that we don’t have to fake, stuff, or spin anything. The gospel puts an end to many things, including posing and pretending. That’s why the call to perpetual joy, prayer and thankfulness doesn’t mock my sensibilities and stoke my irritability.
In fact these very words, this trio of commands, were written by a man who had every right in the world to question your goodness, doubt your promises and struggle with your providences (2 Corinthians 11:16-33). So who is better positioned, who can be more trusted than Paul to deliver such a call, your call, on this Thanksgiving eve?
So, Lord Jesus, my prayer today is for all of my friends and family members for whom life is very hard right now, and the call to thanks giving is more difficult than usual. I pray for the chronic sufferers I know and love-those for whom life feels like a never-ending experience of either physical, emotional or mental pain. I see the weariness… I feel the restlessness… I understand the frustrations and their cry, “How long, O Lord?”
Lord Jesus, may your joy be their strength, for they have very little. May your prayer life be their encouragement, for theirs is nearly non-existent. May your thankfulness before the Father be mediated to their hearts, when it would be easier for them to curse than to praise, to disbelieve than to believe, to run away rather than run to you.
Lord Jesus, I also pray for those for whom the greatest pain right now is relational. Marriages and families which are in breakdown and meltdown… those for whom Thanksgiving will be spent at a table set for one… friendships broken by sin, strained by disagreement, weakened by neglect… Lord Jesus, come in power, kindness, and redeeming and transforming love. So very Amen, I pray, with thanksgiving, in your merciful and mighty name.
Happy Thanksgiving! Today we celebrate the gifts of friendship and family with a Thanksgiving meal. Take time to honor where it comes from with the Bible.
The first Thanksgiving between Wampanoag Native Americans and Puritan colonists occurred in 1621 and is sparsely recorded, but forms the basis for the modern celebration. The 3-day celebration occurred in Plymouth, present-day Massachusetts, and was prompted by a good harvest. However, it is unknown if turkey was on the menu. History.com writes:
While no records exist of the exact bill of fare, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow noted in his journal that the colony’s governor, William Bradford, sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the three-day event. Wild—but not domestic—turkey was indeed plentiful in the region and a common food source for both English settlers and Native Americans. But it is just as likely that the fowling party returned with other birds we know the colonists regularly consumed, such as ducks, geese and swans.
Whatever the menu, the first Thanksgiving did not immediately catch on. It did not become an annual affair until the 1660s and it was not until the American Revolution that George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration on November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”
It was during the Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving date as a federal holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, according to Abraham Lincoln Online.
Celebrate this special day with these inspirational Bible verses for Thanksgiving:
1. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” — 1 Chronicles 16:34
2. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” — Philippians 4:6
3. “And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.’” — Isaiah 12:4-5
4. “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” — 1 Timothy 4:4-5
5. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name.” — Psalm 100:4
6. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:18
7. “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7
8. “I will give you a thank offering. I will call on the Lord’s name.” — Psalm 116:17
9. “Thanks, therefore, be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” — 2 Corinthians 9:15
10. “Let the peace of the Messiah also rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body, and be thankful.” — Colossians 3:15
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends and reflect on the blessings of the last year. Many of us experience renewed hope and faith during the Thanksgiving holiday because we turn our eyes onto what is most important. What if we spent time each day in giving thanks and prayer? How could God grow out faith and trust if we lived a life of thanks through all seasons and not just Thanksgiving time? When your heart is filled with gratitude, there is little room to worry or complain.
We would love to encourage and help you along the way toward greater hope and joy! Below are 7 thanksgiving prayers you can use not only for Thanksgiving day but throughout the year. Start living out the promises of God that Jesus came “that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10.
Table of contents
- 1 Prayer 1: A Daily Thanksgiving Prayer
- 2 Prayer 2: A Prayer for a Thankful Heart
- 3 Prayer 3: A Short Prayer of Thanks
- 4 Prayer 4: A Prayer to Teach Kids Thankfulness
- 5 Prayer 5: A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
- 6 Prayer 6: Thanksgiving Song (makes a wonderful prayer!)
- 7 Prayer 7: 17 Statements of Gratitude
- 8 Thanksgiving Prayers from Scripture:
Prayer 1: A Daily Thanksgiving Prayer
“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, Crosswalk.com Contributor
Prayer 2: A Prayer for a Thankful Heart
“Lord, teach me to offer you a heart of thanksgiving and praise in all my daily experiences of life. Teach me to be joyful always, to pray continually and to give thanks in all my circumstances. I accept them as Your will for my life (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). I long to bring pleasure to Your heart daily. Break the power of the enemy in my life. Defeat Him through my sacrifice of praise. Change my outlook and attitude into one of joyful contentment with my present circumstances. I thank You for…
Jesus, I want to be like You who obeyed the Father without complaint. You embraced the chains of humanity when You walked this earth. Convict me whenever I complain or compare myself with others. Give me Your attitude of humility and thankful acceptance. I want to be like the Apostle Paul who learned contentment in every circumstance. I choose to continually offer You a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that give praise to Your name (Hebrews 13:15). I long to bring a smile to Your face. Teach me the power of a thankful heart. I know that Your truth dwells in a thankful heart.
“I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 7:17-18:1). In Jesus’ name, amen.”
– Debbie Przybylski, Intercessors Arise International
Prayer 3: A Short Prayer of Thanks
“God, sometimes life gets me down and I find it hard to see things to be thankful for. Open my eyes to see the gifts you’ve given me in my life. I’m going to start by thanking you for loving me enough to come to earth and die so we can live together forever. Amen.”
– Wendy van Eyck, Contributor
Prayer 4: A Prayer to Teach Kids Thankfulness
“Lord, I pray that the message of Christ and his sacrifice is the root of gratitude in my heart. That His gracious gift leads me to thankful living, setting an example for my children. That they will have their own relationship with Jesus one day, and that You would grow gratitude in their hearts out of the acceptance of Jesus as their Savior. Lead us to do everything in the name of Jesus and give thanks to You through Him.”
– Marie Osborne, Contributor
Prayer 5: A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
“O Heavenly Father:
We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.
We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service.
That Thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen.”
– “Dear Abby” Columnist
Prayer 6: Thanksgiving Song (makes a wonderful prayer!)
“Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.
From far and near we travel home,
Blessed that we are able.
Grateful for this sheltered place
With light in every window,
Saying welcome, welcome, share this feast
Come in away from sorrow.
Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend and friendless;
All together everyone in the gift of loving-kindness.
Grateful for whats understood,
And all that is forgiven;
We try so hard to be good,
To lead a life worth living.
Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend, and friendless;
All together everyone, let grateful days be endless.
Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.”
– Mary Chapin Carpenter – Thanksgiving Song Lyrics
Prayer 7: 17 Statements of Gratitude
“Thank you, God for the times You have said “no.” They have helped me depend on You so much more.
Thank you, God, for unanswered prayer. It reminds me that You know what’s best for me, even when my opinion differs from Yours.
Thank You, Lord, for the things you have withheld from me. You have protected me from what I may never realize.
Thank You, God, for the doors You have closed. They have prevented me from going where You would rather not have me go.
Thank you, Lord, for the physical pain You’ve allowed in my life. It has helped me more closely relate to Your sufferings on my behalf.
Thank you, Lord, for the alone times in my life. Those times have forced me to lean in closer to You.
Thank you, God, for the uncertainties I’ve experienced. They have deepened my trust in You.
Thank You, Lord, for the times You came through for me when I didn’t even know I needed a rescue.
Thank You, Lord, for the losses I have experienced. They have been a reminder that You are my greatest gain.
Thank You, God, for the tears I have shed. They have kept my heart soft and mold-able.
Thank You, God, for the times I haven’t been able to control my circumstances. They have reminded me that You are sovereign and on the throne.
Thank You, God, for those people in my life whom You have called home to be with You. Their absence from this earth keeps my heart longing for heaven.
Thank You, God, that I have an inheritance in the heavenly places…something that this world can never steal from me and I could never selfishly squander.
Thank You, God, for the greatest gift You could ever give me: forgiveness through Your perfect Son’s death on the cross on my behalf.
Thank You, God, for the righteousness You credited toward me, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a righteousness I could never earn or attain on my own.
Thank You, Father, that You know me, You hear me, and You see my tears. Remind me through difficult times that You are God, You are on the throne, and You are eternally good.
And thank You, Lord, not only for my eternal salvation, but for the salvation You afford every day of my life as You save me from myself, my foolishness, my own limited insights, and my frailties in light of Your power and strength.”
– Cindy McMenamin, Author
Thanksgiving Prayers from Scripture:
Psalm 100Psalm 118:29Philippians 4:6Psalm 103: 1-5Psalm 28:7Psalm 136:1-5
Read more Bible Verses for Thanksgiving at BibleStudyTools.com
This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can’t find the words to pray.
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Thanksgiving Prayer: Is there an official Thanksgiving Prayer?
A Thanksgiving prayer brings to mind a festive table filled with turkey, cranberries, and other traditional dishes. Families surround the table with mouths watering as young cousins eyeball pumpkin pies with whipped cream. Before the turkey is carved, the family joins hands with heads bowed and offers words of thanks for the meal spread before them.
There is no official ‘Thanks to God’ but prayers of gratitude have been offered since long before the 1620 American tradition began. It is the source by which the Pilgrims decided to begin with a prayer of thanks at this historic feast shared with the Wampanoag Indians. Years later, both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving history with their Thanksgiving proclamations.
Thanksgiving Prayer: Where did the idea come from?
For a way to express their thankfulness for survival and the first harvest, the deeply religious Pilgrims looked to the Bible. They found the celebrated Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), or Feast of Ingathering. The ingathering of Israelites (delivered from the desert of Sinai) and their harvest were celebrated in this feast and is the most joyous of all feasts still today (Leviticus 23).
Another reference to giving thanks is found in the account of ‘setting’ what Samuel called the Ebenezer Stone. This was a memorial to remind them to be grateful for God’s help during an attack from the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:10-12). Actually, the Bible speaks of giving thanks nearly from cover to cover. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
All early celebrations had one common theme — God. Thanksgiving was directed toward God, their Creator, Protector, and Provider. They believed that all good things ultimately came from Him as they do today. Other verses that include thanks can be read in Psalm 100:4, Psalm 105:1 and 1 Corinthians 15:57.
Thanksgiving Prayer: How to offer prayers of giving Thanks
Prayers are simply communication to God. They may be a memorized or formal prayer, or they may be words spoken simply but sincerely from the heart. God hears and honors them all (see 1 John 5:14).
A simple children’s prayer goes like this:
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! A Thanksgiving Day prayer, by Brian F. King, says:
O Lord, with humble hearts we pray
Thy blessing this Thanksgiving Day
And ask that at table place,
Where grateful folk say words of grace,
That Thou will come to share the yield
Thy bounty gave to farm and field.
We pray thy love will bless, O Lord,
Each hearth, each home, each festive board;
And that Thy peace will come to stay
Where candles glow, Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving Prayer: Writing your own Thanksgiving prayer
Do you desire to lead your family in a Thanksgiving prayer? Consider these questions as a way of preparing for your prayer:
What were the major events that took place in your family this year?
Did your family grow in number, through weddings or births?
Did your family experience hard times? If so, consider what you learned from each situation.
Who are the members of your family? Name one quality that you’re thankful for in each person.
Learn More About Praising God.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
– We have all
and deserve God’s judgment.
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was
rose from the dead
according to the
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your
, declaring, “
Jesus is Lord
,” you will be saved from
and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow JesusYes, I am already a follower of JesusI still have questions