Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
At our weekly Pastor’s Prayer Partners breakfast we read a prayer by John Baillie. In part is says
I thank you, O Lord God, that though with liberal hand you have at all times showered your blessings upon our human kind, yet in Jesus Christ you have done greater things for us than you ever did before:
Making home sweeter and friends dearer:
Turning sorrow into gladness and pain into the soul’s victory:
Robbing death of its sting:
Robbing sin of its power:
Making peace more peaceful and joy more joyful and faith and hope more secure. Amen.
These beautiful thoughts are at the conclusion of his morning prayer for the 24th day of the month. The first part of the prayer enumerates other things for which we certainly should be thankful, and I’ve copied those below.
It seems important to me, however, to offer two additional thoughts this Thanksgiving day. First of all, the reason for giving thanks to God is unchanging: he is good, and his mercy endures forever. That is a constant for which we must always be thankful. Note, too, that we give thanks to the One who is good and eternally merciful; we’re not talking just about an attitude of gratitude.
Secondly, there is grave danger in failing to be thankful. If we fail to be thankful to God our hearts grow ever darker and we become futile in our thinking. In other words, being thankful to God is the sign of having an enlightened heart. Thanklessness is a sign of futile thinking.
That said – and with the unchanging reason for being thankful to God in mind – here is the first part of Baillie’s prayer. It is worthy, it seems to me, of a thanksgiving meditation.
Now unto you, O heavenly Father, be all praise and glory that day by day you richly fill my life with various blessings:
A home to share, family to love, and friends to cherish:
A place to fill and a work to do:
A green world to live in, blue skies above me, and pure air to breathe:
Healthy exercise and simple pleasures:
My race’s long history to remember and its great men to follow:
Good books to read and many arts and crafts to delight in:
So much that is worth knowing and the skill and science to know it:
Those high thoughts that sometimes fill my mind and come from places I do not know:
Many happy days, and that inward calm that you give me in days of gloom:
The peace, passing understanding, that comes from your indwelling in my soul:
The faith that looks through death and the hope of a larger life beyond the grave.
From A Diary of Private Prayer, by John Baillie, revised by David Bahn