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The Thanksgiving season is a wonderful opportunity to invite church members into a deeper experience of God in both personal and corporate praying.

How does your congregation integrate prayer into the Thanksgiving season?
  • Corporate worship
  • Small groups and Sunday School
  • Family life
And, how are participants equipped to "go deeper" with their prayers of thanks, beyond "Thank you God for sunshine" surface level praying?

Share an idea; make a comment ...

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This month's issue of Reader's Digest has a great article from a lawyer on how giving thanks changed his life. It does not mention thanking God, but it does show how one needs to be much less self focused.
My all time fav author for promoting thanksgiving, aside from our Lord, is Merlin Carothers. His Power in Praise book and his newsletters are goldmines for understanding God's heart for us regarding this.
What we have done for the thanksgiving here at the new location for both of us is particpate in what I have learned is a 'praise celebration banquet' where they have asked members to share at the meal time, what God has done for them, and how the church has ministered to them the past year of time. I am glad to say that it is a great time to have a Thanksgiving and hear from the members of the church and guests as well for the work that God is doing there. At my former location they would have a worship service of giving and bringing gifts for the Christmas season for those who were not doing as well financially speaking. We were able to participate in that our first year in town, as we had been out of work, and had little to work with for Christmas. We were able to get some things that were helpful but of course a church can only do so much that way for Christmas. The real focus is on children's toys, and they do try to help the whole family, so the adults don't feel left out, but it is a good time too, because they have a place for those who haven't heard the gospel to be able to hear it individually after they get their presents. I have only been able to help with that on the other side for one time. The following year, my husband and I had to move down to Fl. as he had lost his job in TN, and then put out for the lifeline to work and we were called down here. So the practices of the churches are a bit diffrent, but do well likewise in the different areas.
Thanksgiving tends to be a season not just for feelings of gratitude but also for expressing that gratitude through serving those who don't have all the blessings that we do. At our church, the tendency is to emphasize this serving aspect of the season, as a way of giving back to God through caring for people.

I think that both a thankful spirit and a focus on serving require foundationally that we are able to lift our eyes beyond ourselves and focus on our God primarily and secondarily on needs elsewhere in the world. I love that the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church also occurs in this timeframe, because it reminds me to be personally thankful for the freedoms that we in the United States often take for granted.

I think if more churches developed a focus in this season on the Persecuted Church, or on the Unreached Peoples, or on any of a number of issues that touch God's heart, we might find more pervasive attitudes of thanksgiving.
In the United States, Thanksgiving has historical underpinnings for national recognition of the Providence of God in bringing our nation through perilous times. I think of this nation's founding in prayer and the BIble. It continues to exist because of intercession and Thanksgiving. I give thanks for all the intercessors and the pro-life movement that stand on the walls and cry out night and day so that freedom may not perish from the earth: One nation, under God, and home to citizens who came from all the world. We are under judgement but we still have a merciful God who will hear us when we repent and turn from our wicked ways. So many churches do Pray and Serve in their communities. Is that not great reason for rejoicing as we gather together with family, neighbors, friends, and fellow believers to affirm our Christian faith in action?
A resource from Group Publishing you can use to incorporate prayer >>>

Children's Message: The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving
Forget about the turkey and stuffing -- It's friendships that fill us with Thanksgiving.

Craft: Give Thanks
Make old friends feel at home -- and new friends feel welcome this Thanksgiving.

Snack: Apple Turkeys
A healthy (and turkey-friendly!) snack kids will gobble up!

Game: Lazarus Race
Break free from the turkey-induced doldrums and experience God's power.
Thanks for the suggestions, I hope I can remember them to share with the church in some way. I think the last suggestion is something the adults need to try to do, as in not sitting down too much after such a big meal, but only enough that the food has sufficiently digested before moving too quickly afterwards. As in a good walk for those who can, and for those who can't at least a ride into the area where they might be able to walk easier . If they are wheelchair bound, then certainly activities that they might be able to handle, i.e. if the feet can't move, then the hands to do what they can ; if the hands have difficulty, then maybe the feet can do something ? I hope that you get the idea. The object is to encourage movement so as to not have the food all settle as 'fat' around the waist. Which I know is all too easy to do. Spiritually speaking the Lord wants us to be able to make wise use of the food we recieve, but not to waste it nor to fix so much that it will spoil if not eaten up the first time around. Wisdom in food preparation for the body, and for the soul. Active discussions that will encourage lively responses I think would also be a great idea as well. You choose the subject that will give God the Glory for all that He has done, and then do what you can to share that with others that you meet.
November God & Me Devotionals Helps
Planning for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year

Pastor, I want to encourage you to spend time this week outlining your Thanksgiving, Missions, Christmas, New Year, and early 2012 Church Calendar. Keep in mind that Christmas day and New Years Day are both on Sundays this year. You'll need to think through and talk through your schedule with key leaders. Here is some of the planning we've been doing at our church during October.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 27) we'll observe the Lord's Supper and conclude our Fall sermon series. Then on the three Sundays leading up to Christmas (Dec. 4, 11, 18) we will focus on missions locally, nationally, and internationally. Our worship style is contemporary, but our lead worshipper will include contemporized Christmas carols along with strong mission-focused worship songs as we move toward Christmas.

As far as Christmas weekend, we are planning two services at 6:00 and 7:30 pm on what we like to call "Christmas-Eve-Eve." (Friday night, Dec. 23). We'll have a well planned worship service with several elements including Christmas carols, Christmas story readings, and the observance of the Lord's Supper (Click here to see the order we used last year).

On Christmas morning (Sunday, Dec. 25) we'll have one service at 10:00 am (we split the difference between our regular two services and call off all Sunday morning groups). This service will be one hour long, celebrative, informal, and will include elements for the whole family.

Hope this is helpful and encouraging, pastor!
Craig Webb 
Craig Webb, Editor

P.S. LifeWay President and CEO, Thom Rainer, has repeatedly reportedthat "... if there is a given day where more unchurched non-Christians are likely to attend church, it would be on Christmas eve." Read other findings on this subject from LifeWay Research.

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November God & Me Devotionals Helps Complimentary Download

November God & Me DownloadNovember’s devotionals and articles cover an array of topics: men and marriage, finding God’s will, fame, praying for people groups, faith and feelings, thankfulness, God’s power, and more. Experiencing this vital “God and me” time every day will disciple and transform members of all ages, and as a result, your church.

Click here to download this complimentary two-page PDF with insights to help you find sermon and teaching illustrations in the following devotionals: LifeWalkOpen WindowsStand Firm(for men), Journey (for women), ec (for teens) and the three devotionals for kids (MoreAdventureBible Express).

Articles and Downloads for Thanksgiving

Fresh ideas for your church Thanksgiving celebrations (Diana Davis)

In everything give thanks (David Jeremiah)

Download: Thanksgiving worship service order (PDF)

Download: Thanksgiving Lord's Supper celebration (PDF)

Download: Thanksgiving quiz - great group icebreaker (PDF)

For 30 years Focus on the Family has been nurturing and defending families worldwide. Visit for articles and resources to help you and your family thrive.
  3 Thanksgiving tips for your family … 

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to bring your family closer together—and we can help. This year, try these three easy ideas to help your family thrive … 

1.  Start a family tradition.  
  Whether you're a newly married couple, busy parents or proud grandparents, it's never too late to start a family tradition! Traditions help establish a sense of family identity‚ as well as create meaningful memories that your spouse and children will remember for years to come.  
2.  Spend time.  
  The holiday season can be a time of busyness and stress for many families. But no matter how hectic your schedules might be, there's nothing more important than slowing down to spend time with those you love.  
3.  Serve others.  
  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, rake leaves for an elderly neighbor or bring a meal to a sick family at church. You'd be surprised to discover how much fun it can be to serve others with your family‚ and how it can help your children be thankful for the many blessings God has given them.  
For more tips and ideas to help your family thrive, visit

Thanksgiving Day of Prayer

DANBURY, Conn., Nov. 8, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- May We Pray for You? The Guideposts OurPrayer Ministry announces its 20th annual Thanksgiving Day of Prayer, scheduled for Monday, November 21. The public is invited to submit prayer requests online at where each prayer request will be prayed for by OurPrayer staff and volunteers.

Dr. Hicks comments, "Our country and the world is in need of prayer now more than ever. Natural disasters, economic troubles, unemployment, relationship and marital problems all contribute to the need for people to turn to God in prayer. We receive thousands of prayer requests throughout the year and are privileged to pray for each by name and need."

Christian Newswire

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