In 2013 I was very blessed to be teaching an eight-week course to a church women’s group. The focus of our course was on the challenges of poverty in the community and the church’s response. We worked through a book on poverty. To use with their reading, I printed up and gave each woman a bookmark containing Bible verses that focus on poverty:
Depending on your church tradition, you may or may not be familiar with the words of the Apostle’s Creed. I grew up in a church where we memorized the words in Sunday school at a very young age. Our teachers taught us what the words meant and why we stood and said these words each Sunday in church.
The Apostle’s Creed is still a great way for people to learn about the Christian faith. For those who are new to the faith, the words can help people learn, ask questions, and grow. For those who have been Christians for a while, it can be helpful to look over the words of the creed to remember and affirm what we believe. On difficult days and in trying times, the words of the Apostle’s Creed remind us that no matter what we are facing, it’s all worth it.
Thanksgiving Day is a beautiful time to reflect on God’s goodness in our lives. We are reminded to really focus our hearts on who God is and how much He loves us. It’s an opportunity to ask God to align our hearts with His, so we can see through His eyes, and love with His love.
As we give our thanks to God, we become aware of the many ways – large and small – He is involved in our daily lives. Thanksgiving is a time to recommit, through our prayers, to live in gratitude each day. Our Thanksgiving prayers can open our hearts to be more thankful, and to pay attention to what God is doing in our lives daily – even (and especially) on difficult days.
As I began to prepare for my Thanksgiving prayer time, I wondered what kinds of prayers people are praying. I found this beautiful website that shares prayers for Thanksgiving, along with prayers for many other moments of our lives. It’s a resource I have bookmarked and will revisit often. I hope you will enjoy their collection of Thanksgiving prayers as much as I did:
May God bless you and your family on this Thanksgiving Day.
Thank you for your love and for the amazing people you have brought into our lives.
We know that today, many of the people we love are remembering painful moments. Many are suffering from the trauma of wars. Please bring them your love and comfort. Please heal the pain of trauma. Give them the peace that only you can give.
Many of us are mourning the loss of our friends and family because of war. Bring us comfort. Help us to remember sweet things about those who are gone, so we can continue to celebrate their lives, even as we mourn.
God, thank you for every person who is serving or has served to protect our country and to bring greater freedom, hope, and peace into our world. We are thankful beyond words, but you hear our hearts. We want to honor their lives, their service, and their families through our prayers of gratitude.
Please forgive each of us for the ways we undermine that peace in our daily lives and interactions, through our thoughts, words, and actions. Help us to stay in your peace.
For all the people who serve in our armed forces today, and for all the veterans who have served, we ask that you keep them safe, bless their lives, and bless their families. Let them know how much you love them.
Thank you, Jesus, for how much you love us. As we remember the people who have died serving our country, we remember too that you died for us, to bring freedom from bondage and to give us eternal life. We thank you today with our whole hearts.
I was talking yesterday with a friend who just returned from Uganda. She spent several weeks with a neighborhood ministry that had requested inner healing prayer. As she shared about the desperate situation and the hunger in the people’s hearts, she also lamented that she seldom finds that kind of hunger here at home.
We considered what it means to be desperate for God and why that often seems more prevalent outside the United States. Then we talked about the desperate situations all around us here at home. Perhaps there are two aspects of “desperate.” One involves situations. The other concerns attitudes of our hearts.
Despite the disparity of wealth among nations, people’s lives can be in despair no matter where they live. Here in the United States, I know plenty of people in desperate need of God. But they don’t recognize it the way people in some other places do. Why not?
A scene from a movie comes to mind. The doctor in Beyond Borders is operating on a dying woman in Ethiopia during a time of famine. He explains that people thank him with their whole hearts there, whereas back in London, they don’t thank doctors as deeply. In the Ethiopian camp where he is serving, there are no pain killers, so the people feel everything. They appreciate help on a gut-wrenching level.
He asks the visiting American, “What do you do when you have a cold?”
She suggests several common remedies.
He says, “Do you ever just have the cold?”
The answer is no. When we have the means, we doctor ourselves up, doing whatever it takes not to feel the cold, the pain, the discomfort.
And that is the difference between desperate situations and desperate hearts.
Here in the United States, we have many ways to mask our pain. We numb ourselves, seek self-comfort, hide in false refuges, drown things out with our noise and busyness, deny our realities, and sweep truth under the rug.
We can only become desperate for God when we realize how desperate our situations are. The more we hide, numb, self-comfort, and deny, the less we will recognize our deep need for God.
In fact, as another friend pointed out, our ability to numb ourselves is what makes our situation desperate. We have become really good at blocking God from the places in our hearts that hurt the most.
How do we change?
It has to start with each one of us, individually, and then as families, and then as church families.
We have to be real with what’s going on in our hearts. We have to let God bring things to the surface so He can deal with them. We need to acknowledge the pain, feel it, and embrace it. To recognize that we have nothing without God. Then we need to invite Him into those difficult places in our hearts, so He can bring true healing.
We also must be willing to hold each other accountable to this – and to let ourselves be accountable to others as a family, and as a body of Christ.
What do you think? Wouldn’t this be a good day to start?
Will you join me in this prayer?
Lord Jesus, thank You that You came to set us free from the ways we have become held captive in lies, denial, and our ability to sidestep our own pain. Forgive us for the ways we cover up, numb ourselves, and whitewash the realities of our lives. Search our hearts and show us where our deepest hurts and fears are hidden. Bring Your light, truth, and healing to every area of our hearts. We want to be completely in relationship with You, with our whole hearts. Help us, God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“’The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;'”
— Isaiah 61:1 (NKJV)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
— Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV)
Dear God, I pray for our Pre-K-12 students and their families, as they transition from school to summer. Give children and parents a smooth transition and a joyous, safe, nurturing summer. I pray that every child has the meals, the daily care and protection they need for the summer. Help each child with their summer reading. Be with our graduating seniors during this big change, and with our Pre-K, 5th and 8th graders as they move up to the next school. Bless our teachers and school staff. Give them rest and renewal. Give each child good friends and amazing experiences this summer, and help them discover more about You. Thank You for watching over our kids and our schools all year. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Thinking about these precious Nepali school kids tonight. Our kids here are out for the summer. Some of our kids have a hard time when they’re not at school to receive meals. Some can’t count on family being around when they’re home on summer break. I wonder about these sweet girls in Nepal. What’s going on in their lives today?
Lord Jesus, bless these girls. Protect them. Let them know how much You love them. You know what their needs are, their fears, their hopes, the stuff they struggle with every day that I can’t imagine. Meet them where they are. Let them know how much they matter to You. That You have an amazing plan for them, and that You will help them every step. Lord, I remember these children walking long distances through the mountains to school. Let them know You walk with them, and You will never leave them or forsake them. Thank You, Lord, for the privilege of praying for these girls tonight. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Heavenly Father, thank You for life, joy, health and peace. I’m not feeling so well today. But I know You are here. Help me to find rest and comfort in Your presence. Lord, heal me. I choose life. I choose health. I need Your help. By Your Holy Spirit, please strengthen me in my spirit, so that my body will begin to heal. While I’m sick, help me to be at peace, just knowing You are here, and I am yours. Thank You that Your grace and love are enough for me. Restore me, O God. I love You. In Jesus’ name. Amen
It didn’t go the way I thought.
I never got to have kids.
My career that I once aspired to is over, having never quite begun.
I’m getting older … enough to notice.
But that’s okay!
I’m still alive and I’m still me.
I’m still full of all the hope and dreams I ever had.
I’m still going through this journey called life, right beside my friends, who may have kids, or spouses, or careers, but we’re really all the same.
We’re all God’s kids.
I’ve pulled my chair up to the table with a smile.
I always have.
You really are looking at me.
I “know” You are – it’s obvious. You always respond to my needs, even the ones I don’t know I have.
I couldn’t see so You gave me new glasses. You knew I couldn’t pay for them, so You did.
I didn’t have anything to eat and You gave me so much my freezer is overflowing.
You knew when I needed rest and You surprised me with time off – quiet days to spend with You.
I “know” You’ll meet my needs – You always have. I’ve noticed!
I know it in my mind.
But my heart sometimes wonders how You’ll do it.
I guess if I’m truthful, there may be something deeper. Some part of my heart wonders why You’ll do it.
You’ve said I’m Your precious child, and that You love me, and that it delights You to care for me.
I’m still trying to wrap my heart around that. It’s really new to me.
But thank You for teaching me and showing me that Your words are true. Your heart really does love to take care of me.
And the way You respond … with perfect provision, just what I need when I need it … You really are my Father. You really do live with me. You really do notice me, and You really do know every detail of my life. You really are parentling me. You really are active in every part of my life. You really do have plans for me, and have taken responsibility to care for me and guide me and love me and nurture me.
You really did choose me.
You really have adopted me wholeheartedly. This is for real. You really do say, “Child, you belong to Me” and You mean it. And you know what that means!
I matter to You – inside and out. I really actually do.
And I really do believe it.
You really are looking at me, and Your heart is filled with love, and You are sold out on me and committed to taking care of me, and Your love won’t quit.
I actually believe it now.
We’re in this together for the long haul – You and me. You actually chose me.
You’re gonna take care of me – forever.
You smile at me, You sing to me, You want to hang out with me.
Your heart delights in me!
Thank You for showing me that Your love is for real, and that You’re never gonna leave me.
You really are looking at me. 🙂