Thursday, November 24, 2016

How to Pray on Thanksgiving Day

Image Courtesy of Naypong/

...And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.  

Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1863

I typically use scripture to open my writing pieces, but today, Thanksgiving Day, it seems most appropriate to use the words of Abraham Lincoln which were his proclamation to a nation to set aside a day to give thanks to God for all our blessings. It's important to remember that this Proclamation was made during The American Civil War. The irony of that speaks volumes to me today.

We, as the parents of children with special needs, often are so caught up in our daily struggles, that we find it difficult to stop and be thankful. I recall a Thanksgiving when my daughter was going through chemotherapy and recovering from having had part of her kidney removed. She was not even two years old, and we were asked to recognize a day to give thanks to God. I knew we had much to be thankful for, but that didn't change the fact that I was on high alert at all times for fevers, illnesses, and infections. It's difficult to have a heart of gratitude when your heart is filled with fear and uncertainty.

Today, my heart feels burdened or those who may have trouble remembering WHY they should feel thankful.   

The Broken
The Lost
The Weary
The Invisible

My friends, Thanksgiving is a day created for you...

I know the language used by Lincoln in 1863 may be difficult to read, and seem like a "yawn-fest"...but, basically, in the passage I quoted above, Abraham Lincoln was encouraging a broken and wayward nation to turn to God and plead for those who had been affected by the civil conflict; to IMPLORE God to show mercy on us and to restore our nation to peace and prosperity through His sovereign and divine power.  

I especially love the words, "...fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand..."

We are supposed to pray today, whether we are enjoying a day of peace and happiness, or sorrow and strife, we are asked to pray that God's Will be done on earth and that in, all His goodness and mercy, He restores this land.

But, even more, we are reminded today that we are called to be THANKFUL for our struggles.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you trials of many kinds...
James 1:2 NIV

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  
Romans 12:12 NIV

I have been bombarded by messages from God this past week reminding me that we are created by God FOR God's purposes and that we are to be resigned to and in agreement with His Will. While that's sweet medicine for the soul when things are going swell, it's a tough pill to swallow when one is suffering heartache and loss.

So, how do we pray on Thanksgiving Day?

I have found the Prayer Hand to be a helpful tool in helping me to pray. It reminds me that there are five parts of prayer, and can help me when I'm not quite knowing HOW to pray for something. The five steps are:

Intercession (praying for others)
Petition (praying for myself)

With this outline in mind, I encourage you all to spend some time in prayer today.  
  • Praise God for His unfathomable power, and praise Him for the fact that we cannot understand all His ways.  
  • Thank Him for sending Jesus to die for our sins so that we may live with Him in Heaven some day.  
  • Pray for those who have suffered great losses this year:  deaths, illnesses, financial losses, security.  
  • Pray for God to shower them with mercy and love to restore the faith they may have lost in this world.  
  • Pray for yourself~for what YOU desire from God:  strength, courage, faith, joy.  
  • And confess...admit that your heart may not be in alignment with God's Will yet, admit that you may have gossiped, or hurt others in order to make yourself feel more important, confess to God that you are prideful or gluttonous, or unfaithful...confess that you, often will put other earthly things as a priority over God in your life.
We live in a dying world. Troubles surround us. But God is not absent in the trials, He stands in the middle of them.  Abraham Lincoln recognized this and knew that, while there was much to grieve in 1863, there was also much to be Thankful for...and the same remains true today.

There is nothing quite so glorifying to God as when His people are able to praise Him in the Midst of Chaos; and He shall bring them Comfort.

Pray:  Dear Father, You are beyond anything my mind can understand.  You have written our stories before we were even born, and for that I thank you.  Today we celebrate Thanksgiving, and we celebrate all that you have given us.  The most important gift you have given is the Hope for Heaven, and living with You for all eternity.  When all else crumbles around us, we have that Hope, and for THAT we are THANKFUL.  Amen.

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