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7 Priority Thanksgiving Day Prayers Most Christians Have Never Prayed

 

Editor’s Note: Every November, millions of Christian families across America will begin their Thanksgiving Day feast with prayer. They will thank God for all kinds of blessings—financial, health, family, church, including unexpected godsends or miracles in 2018.

But there is a whole other category of prayers of thanksgiving that needs to be included as we unite around the table. Truth be told, they should take priority, becoming the ones we express first. More importantly, this special reason for gratitude ought to be prayed daily, in one form or another, throughout the year.

Yet, for many of us, this seven-fold agenda probably has never crossed our minds.

However, as David Bryant shares in this week’s blog post, these dynamic declarations of gratitude to God are at the heart of our walk with Christ. For sure, along with a multitude of believers, we’ll all be expressing these seven key prayers before all of heaven on that glorious “Final Thanksgiving Day” when our King returns in victory—and we’ll keep doing so forever!

 

“Thanks Be to God for His
Unspeakable Gift!”

What is the greatest gift you’ve ever received? Is there one blessing above all others that has ignited your heart with undying gratitude? Is there any work of God’s grace toward you that fills your daily prayers with appreciation and praise?

Christians know from Scripture, there’s only one answer to all three questions: our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul tells us so in 2 Corinthians 9:15. Here it is in four translations (with emphasis added):

  • Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (RSV)
  • Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (NIV)
  • Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words! (NLT)
  • Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough! (MSG)

In the context, Paul is speaking of Jesus and all the blessings that come to us through him. For example, the apostle reflects in the previous chapter:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Jesus is the greatest gift any of us will ever receive. All other gifts—in fact, all the promises of God—are showered on us through him.

Yet we’re told in verse 15, he’s the one gift that is inexpressible, indescribable, beyond human description—unspeakable.

So, how can any Thanksgiving Day prayer be shaped by something—by someone—so lofty, so profound, so amazing that current vocabulary fails to do him justice?

Moreover, Paul increases the difficulty of our challenge in Ephesians 3:8 when he adds that in God’s Son are found “riches” that are “inexhaustible” (MSG), “boundless” (NIV), “endless” (NLT).

So, even if I’m able to come up with words to express gratitude for how we have “received grace upon grace out of Christ’s fullness” (John 1), there will never be an end to my discoveries of all the treasures found in my Savior!

No wonder the Bible declares that our Father “has blessed us in the heavenlyrealms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1, NIV, emphasis added). “Heavenly” means we have topics for prayers of thanksgiving defined by eternal, cosmic, angelic realities beyond this world—and defined by who Jesus is, where he sits, and what his current saving reign means for you and me.

Still, as impossible as it may seem, Christians are called to take hold of words and declare with their tongues heartfelt thanks to God the best we know how. We are to “rejoice evermore” and “in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5, NKJV)—most of all, as we give thanks for Jesus, the one gift that subsumes all others—including in 2018.

Create a New Way to Pray
at Your Thanksgiving Table This Year

What I want to do for the remainder of this blog post is give you SEVEN facets of this one grand gift, suggesting a few key questions for you to answer about each.

Then, I want you to use your answers to compose seven single-paragraph prayers—basically by turning each separate answer for each main topic into an expression of thanksgiving to the Father for the Son, based on what your answers inspire for you.

Finally, I suggest that you type your seven thanksgiving paragraphs on a  sheet of paper and make a copy for each person sharing Thanksgiving with you. Before the meal begins, ask seven guests to each read one of the prayers out loud while everyone else prays along silently.

Encourage everyone to see each prayer as a new kind of Thanksgiving prayer that most of them have never prayed before. Also, remind them that all seven prayers are really one prayer—all about the one Person who is the greatest blessing any of us could possibly celebrate in the past year.

NOTE: The seven topics for these seven prayers are based on the “7 groundbreaking keys” explored in over 600 pages in my latest book, Christ Is NOW!— in case you would like to explore any of this in more depth for yourself.

 

(1) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is TO us

Prompts to help you shape your prayer:

  • What is one insight Jesus helped you to see more clearly about the nature and ways of God this past year?
  • What is one new truth about Jesus’ majesty and supremacy you discovered in your study of the Bible this past year?
  • What is one name or title for Jesus (out of over 300 in Scripture) that brought special joy and meaning at some point in your life this past year?
  • In 2018, what was one time your identity as one who belongs to God’s Son blessed you?

Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #1. Drawing on your four answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is TO us.

(2) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is FOR us

Prompts to help you shape your prayer:

  • What blesses you about knowing that Jesus can fully understand you in whatever you’re going through because for our sakes he became one of us?
  • At what one specific moment in 2018 did Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for your sins take on a deeper meaning for you, filling you with gratitude for all he suffered for you?
  • What does it mean to you that Jesus conquered death forever? This past year how has this truth brought you comfort or filled you with renewed hope?
  • Are you thankful for a moment this past year when the truth about Jesus’ victorious reign today increased your confidence to face a challenge?

Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #2. Drawing on your four answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is FOR us.

(3) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is OVER us

Prompts to help you shape your prayer:

  • Was there one time this past year when the truth that Jesus reigns over the workings of creation filled you with praise?
  • Was there a time this past year when the truth that Jesus overrules in the unfolding of world history gave you new reasons to celebrate?
  • Was there a time this past year when the truth that Jesus is in full control of the designs of global leaders brought you a measure of reassurance and hope?
  • Was there a time this past year when the truth that Jesus is advancing his kingdom among earth’s people filled you with renewed excitement about what lies ahead for the gospel?
  • Was there a time this past year when you witnessed Jesus reigning over the forces of darkness in a way that removed fear from you and ignited bold faith in you?

Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #3. Drawing on your five answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is OVER us.

(4) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is BEFORE us

Prompts to help you shape your prayer:

  • Christ has gone before us into the future to bring it back to us right now. What is one way you’ve seen him do that for you this past year?
  • Jesus has gone before us into the heavens to take us there with him right now. What is one way this reality has encouraged you this past year?
  • Christ has gone before us into the promises of God to make them ours too, right now. Is there one promise of Scripture that you’ve had fulfilled in your life this past year through Christ?
  • Jesus has gone before us into the world to open up a way for us to serve him right now. What is one way this past year our Savior opened a new way to share him with someone else?

Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #4. Drawing on your four answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is BEFORE us.

(5) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is WITHIN us

Prompts to help you form your prayer:

  • What is one way you have experienced Christ’s indwelling presence in your life this past year?
  • What is one way your Christian fellowship has experienced Jesus’ presence among you this past year?
  • The Spirit of God dwells in us in order to extend the reign of Christ in us and to reveal more of Christ to us. What is one time you experienced his ministry to you this past year?
  • Can you recall one time this past year you enjoyed the blessing of your unity with other believers as a result of how Jesus was working among you?

Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #5. Drawing on your four answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is WITHIN us.

(6) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is THROUGH us

Prompts to help you form your prayer:

  • Where have you recently seen evidence of the extension of Christ’s ascension and reign, either where you live or somewhere among the nations?
  • What one work of mission and gospel ministry through a body of believers have you become aware of this past year that fills you with excitement, anticipation, and gratitude?
  • In what one special way has the Lord Jesus worked through your life to touch someone in the Body of Christ—and about which you’re grateful?
  • In what one special way has the Lord Jesus worked through your life to touch someone who has not become a Christian yet—and about which you’re grateful?
  • Can you recall a time in 2018 when your growing vision of the greatness and glory of Christ inspired you to reach out to someone else to help them see more of who he is?

Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #6. Drawing on your five answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is THROUGH us.

(7) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is UPON us

Prompts to help you form your prayer:

  • Where have you seen some evidence that Christ’s reign is advancing among the nations (or where you live) with new empowerment—for which you give thanks?
  • Where have you experienced a work of the Spirit in your life (such as a miracle or a healing or some other form of divine intervention) that seemed like a “foretaste” of what it will be like when Jesus returns to reign over all things?
  • At what point this past year did it feel to you like Jesus was taking charge in some new way, deepening and increasing something he was already doing in you?
  • Have you seen any signs of the beginnings of a “Christ Awakening” locally or elsewhere that suggest to you a greater work of Christ is about to take place?
  • What is there about the coming Consummation—the new heavens and earth—that has become more real to you and more precious to you?

Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #7. Drawing on your five answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is UPON us.

 

OK . . . It’s Time to Pray!

One of St. Augustine’s most famous quotes (I have it on a plaque in my office, in fact) goes like this:

Those who have Christ have everything.
Those who have everything
but do not have Christ have nothing.
And those who have everything plus Christ
have no more than those who have Christ alone.

Those who have Christ have EVERYTHING! That’s why the top priority prayer we should all be praying on Thanksgiving Day is praise and gratitude for ALL Jesus is and all we have in him. Moreover, we should be praying like this all year long! So let me end that way with this prayer:

Dear Father, thank you for your unspeakable gift, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you for all your Son means TO us—especially for all the ways he reveals to us your nature and your heart and brings us into his relationship with you.

Thank you for all your Son means FOR us—for his four-fold salvation by his incarnation, his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his ascension.

Thank you for all your Son means OVER us—as he reigns among the nations and in our lives, defeating all enemies and securing the future of all creation as well as our destinies.

Thank you for all your Son means BEFORE us—as he precedes us and makes a way for us into all you have for us in the future, in the heavens, in the promises, and in the world.

Thank you for all your Son means WITHIN us—as he manifests his presence and power by living out his life in each of us and all of us together.

Thank you for all your Son means THROUGH us—as he unleashes his ministry gifts and his gospel mission to bless others by how he uses us as his servants.

Thank you for all your Son means UPON us—as he gives us today more and more preliminary experiences of the Consummation by the power of his Spirit and as he prepares us to share in even greater displays of his supremacy in the ages to come. AMEN.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving as you praise the Father from whom comes every good and perfect gift—especially the supreme gift of our Lord Jesus Christ! Our thanksgiving for that indescribable gift will continue for all eternity!

 

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and to Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.

 

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