I love pulling up to my relatives’ house with the crisp, chilly wind sweeping across my face while the smell of chimney smoke and turkey fills the air. When I get closer to the house, I hear the football announcers on tv and get to say hello to all the relatives I haven’t seen in a year. Yes, it is finally Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Growing up, it involved two-hand touch football outside and watching football after stuffing my face full of food! I didn’t grow up in a Christian household, so this holiday was all about family, food, and football. And honestly, all I knew about the history of Thanksgiving was that some pilgrims ate food with some Native Americans. I won’t go into the history of Thanksgiving in this post because, as I started researching, the history is beyond my knowledge to talk about.

One thing I do know is the Bible talks a lot about the importance of giving thanks to God! The Psalms are riddled with giving thanks to him:

“I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;

I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.”

Psalm 7:17

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;

I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

Psalm 9:1

I could go on and on. In fact, around 1 in every 6 Psalms mentions thanking the Lord. Paul also teaches quite a bit on thanksgiving in his letters. As I was reflecting on thanksgiving, I came back to one verse over and over. We memorized this verse as staff a few years ago:

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

In this verse, Paul is reminding us we have nothing to be anxious about because the Lord protects us. And when we pray to God, we pray with a heart of thanksgiving. As I reflected on this verse, I thought to myself, do I give thanks to God when I pray? And then a step further on the now institutionalized holiday of Thanksgiving, do I truly give thanks to the one who died on the cross in order that I may be with Him in all eternity? Honestly, on Thanksgiving, I give fewer thanks to God than I normally do.

This verse has challenged me to go into Thanksgiving this year with a heart of giving thanks to the Lord. So I want to challenge you to join me in thinking more intently about all the Lord has done for you and give thanks to him this Thanksgiving. Maybe even memorize Philippians 4:6-7. I want to end with a prayer of thanksgiving:

“O Lord our God, who is the beginning and end, thank you for sending your son incarnate Jesus Christ to be crucified on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins so that we may be reconciled with you. Thank you, Lord, most high for the opportunity to worship you without the threat of persecution like so many brothers and sisters throughout the world. Thank you for those brothers and sisters and for giving them the strength to endure and continue to worship you under such intense persecution. O Holy one, forgive me for my insufficiency in giving thanks to you always, as well as forgive my brothers and sisters for the same. You are perfect and deserve our unending praise and thanks. Give us the strength to run from temptation, and deliver us from evil. I pray this in your wonderful and perfect holy name, Amen.”

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