Prayer, Plain and Simple

They’re playing Christmas music in my coffee shop this morning. By now we understand the marketing strategy: push the boundaries of Yule back one or two days a year. Do we actually spend more this way?

Thanksgiving used to be the threshold, with the Friday after “The Big Eat” being traditionally the biggest Christmas  shopping day of the year. We blew through that boundary a decade ago. Now, on November 6th, some eight weeks out, we’re already hanging lights and wreaths. What’s lost, I fear is Thanksgiving. We’ve crunched it down to a kind of overture shoehorned in between the commercial frenzy.

I don’t suppose there’s any fighting this on the macro level. Forces larger then you and me are stampeding this herd. But on the micro level I think we can respond and counter the loss of the significance of Thanksgiving. We can do this by… well, being intentionally, individually, specifically, consistently, thankful. And the best way to be thankful is to aim our thanks in the direction that really matters – toward God.

Thanksgiving began as a prayer. The first tradition traces the holiday back to the Pilgrim settlements in New England and specifically to one harvest feast the colonists held with Native Americans who had helped them learn survival skills in the new land. Later Abraham Lincoln, during the dark and dire days of the Civil War declared “Thanksgiving” an official holiday. Prayer to God not football or stuffing the turkey and then stuffing ourselves was the centerpiece.

In an effort to help us individually recover the heart of true Thanksgiving, we’re posting some suggested Thanksgiving Prayers this month. Each day if each of us will simply pause in the middle of our hectic moments to aim two simple words toward God, what a change would follow! There are so many things that God has secured in our lives, so many blessings even in the middle of trial and challenge and stress and fears, all of which are real and present. But above and beyond, God is good and present and real as well. Today, for a moment, say those two words.

Set the alarm on your watch to ring every hour to remind you to say, “Thank you.”

Put up a Post It on your bathroom mirror, “Thank you God for…”

Ask a friend to call you and remind you to pray at least once today…

Tie a string around your finger…

Be creative… But by all means say the two words. It’s not yet the 4th Thursday of November. But if they can play “Jingle Bells before Halloween, we can say “Thank You, God” before we buy our turkey and stuffing…

“God, Thank you!”

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