Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Thanksgiving Prayer ... Thru the Centuries

I am thankful for believers through the centuries who have set the example of faithfulness for me.

This morning I read the words of Paul in Philippians 4:12, when he said, "I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

Just a few verses later, he says, "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."

This year so many Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving with adversity: financial strain, separation by war, emptiness, illness. I am amazed that before William Bradford, who was a leader at the Plymouth colony and historian of the events, ever recorded the history or made his mark as Governor on it, he suffered personal adversity.

Upon arrival in the harbor in Provincetown, Bradford's young wife, Dorothy, drowned and never became a part of the colony the young couple risked so much to establish. He is, however, the one who declared what many consider to be the first day of "Thanks giving" in 1621. It wasn't done with the vision for a national holiday; there wasn't even a nation at that point. It was done in recognition of our dependence on God, out of humility before our Maker, with open hands to receive provision for necessities.

After betrayal by a friend in England, supposedly working on their behalf, the Pilgrims suffered a summer of severe drought. They did what they had practiced before: "They decided on a collective act of worship to call upon their God to save them as He had done before. They resolved to 'humble ourselves before the Lord by fasting and prayer,' and the Lord heard their prayer." (Hodgson, p. 137)

The day after their prayer and fasting, it began to rain, and it lasted 14 days. Shortly after, news came that supply ships were coming from England. It was a sick and weary group of English and Wampanoags who had both suffered greatly and then gathered, not out of abundance, but out of need and adversity.

The first Thanksgiving was in response to God's provision that followed active humility through fasting and prayer.

As I reflected on the legacy of Thanks Giving left to me in Philippians and in the words of William Bradford, I was challenged to consider my own heart at this holiday I so love. I have so much to cause my heart to be full, especially when I see my life from God's perspective. I pray your Thanks Giving Day will be one that is born out of a humble seeking after God's favor and out of gratitude that He is the good Giver of all things. I leave you with my Thanks Giving Prayer for this year....

Each year when roasted turkey is heaped high upon a tray,
We say that we are grateful and we bow our heads and pray.
While gathered 'round a table filled with more than we will eat,
It's easy to lift up our praise and gratitude repeat.

But what if this year's table was at a shelter far from home,
With soldiers or with homeless or with refugees that roam?
What if I was one of them without a laden tray,
Without a Macy's Day Parade to watch throughout the day?

What if there wasn't laughter or quiet for the scene,
What if the plates were metal or maybe not quite clean?
What if all the heads that bow had heavy hearts beneath,
Not shopping on Black Friday or hanging up a wreath?

What if I was all by myself with no hands to hold in prayer,
What if my walls were prison bars, the floor all hard and bare?
What if the thought of turkey and red sauce bright and cold
Was from Thanksgivings long ago in memories that are old?

Would I still say I'm grateful and give thanks as well I should?
For whatever circumstance I'm in, I know, Lord, you are good.

Blessings to you for a day to take joy in God's goodness!

3 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Heidi Pocketbook said...

Thanksgiving blessings to you and your family, Julie. I know it will be a special one for you.

Anonymous said...

Julie, your Thanks Giving prayer was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I can't wait to spend Thanksgiving with my beloved family! Love, Jenny C.

Jackie said...

What a beautiful prayer. Thanks for sharing!