For now, I’ll limit myself to the art of prayer, namely that hallowed Thanksgiving Prayer offered by a head of the family, or a person perceived to be religious, or the first person to ask if we’re going to pray first. If experience has taught you to anticipate that this will almost definitely be you, I humbly submit the following Thanksgiving prayers.
Sometimes brevity is the priority, particularly if the meal is being served later than anticipated. Or if you sense animosity growing over the potatoes getting cold.
Lord, we gather today to offer Thanksgiving,
to remember your gifts, to give thanks for living.
We demand no wealth, no fame, no worldly success,
just this food, this family [these friends], in your goodness to bless. Amen.
All the Fixin’s
I suppose the “meat” of a Thanksgiving prayer is the simple expression of gratitude, which means the prayer can be short and locally oriented. However, there’s something to be said for naming specific things and people. In the spirit of Catholic Social Teaching, Thanksgiving is a great occasion to include in our prayer individuals who are not immediately in front of us, but for whom we could not enjoy the meal without.
Lord God, we thank you for the gift of this day, the gift of one another,
and the gift of this food which you have provided from your bounty.
As we prepare to celebrate this Thanksgiving feast,
we ask for your blessing upon us and upon all of the gifts that fill our table.
Bless also the farmers and laborers who cultivate the land, and provide
the meat and vegetables we are so fortunate to enjoy.
Bless the grocers and market workers, clerks and store owners.
May all those who have labored for this food be treated with the dignity of children of God,
and may they be paid a just wage.
As we give you thanks, O Lord, we ask that you nourish us,
that we might be good stewards of the earth, keepers of one another,
and prophets of your coming Kingdom.
We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
In my intro to liturgy class at seminary, our professor taught us to formulate prayers in a “You Who … Do” format. You recall what God has done and ask him to do it again. One wouldn’t think this could work for modern things like cars and iPads, but trust me, the Catholic Book of Blessings finds a way. So shall we … with turkey.
O God of loving kindness,
You created the birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
and all the creatures who dwell on the land.
You set humankind to have dominion over the animals,
to assist us in our labors, and sustain us in our living.
Since the earliest days of this Thanksgiving feast,
the turkey has been a sign of your goodness and the bountiful love
with which you nourish us without ceasing.
We ask you then, to send your blessing upon this turkey, upon all of our food,
and upon all of us who are nourished by it, even as we remember those who this day go without.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Thanksgiving for One
It may be that you’re spending this Thanksgiving alone. It may be that you have spent other Thanksgivings alone, by choice, or by circumstance. Whatever the reason, God is with you, loves you, and is thankful for the gift of your life.
O God, you search me and you know me.
You know my heart, my mind, my life.
I give you thanks for the many blessings you give me
and all of the ways you walk with me each day.
I ask for your blessing upon this food,
and upon all those who brought it to this table.
May you continue to nourish and strengthen me,
so that all that I am, and all that I will be,
I may offer as a gift to you.
Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Tweetable II: The Sequel
(I won’t be offended if you didn’t like my first one. It’s fine. Maybe you’ll like this one better.)
For food to nourish and warm our bodies.
For loved ones to share in sorrow and joy.
For time, for mercy, for newness, for-giving.
For life in Your Kingdom,
We give thanks, O Lord.