Prayers of Thanksgiving for Thanksgiving Day

By Jennifer Gregory Miller (bio - articles - email) | Nov 24, 2016

Originally published in November 2015.

It’s been a long three days of cooking and cleaning preparing for our Thanksgiving meal. Twenty-five family members will be gathering around our table today. Only minor injuries were sustained during preparation.

Thanksgiving in the United States is a national holiday. It’s a day of joy and love and togetherness for most. Wishing others a happy Thanksgiving doesn’t result in controveries; most Americans honor this holiday regardless of religion.

It seems everyone has an idea of what Thanksgiving means to them, whether it be the food, family, friendship, freedom, country...the list can be endless. But as Catholics (or Christians in general), we recognize that first and foremost, “thanksgiving” is directed to God. Through all the celebrations of the day, we should start and continue with thanking God. While not a feast day of the liturgical calendar, the Church has a special collect for this day, and the mass “For Giving Thanks to God” which is recommended for use on Thanksgiving Day.

This week in preparation for this week’s atrium with the Level 2 and 3 children (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd), I searched to find different psalms that expressed gratitude to God. I found lists of classification of the Book of Psalms, but they often differed, so it required some prayerful reading to find psalms and verses that were suitable.

I found many; in fact it was hard to limit. A few of my favorites were Psalms 8, 40, 92, 95, 100, 103, 113, 117, 118, 138, 145, 147, 150. And then the Church uses the Canticle of the Three Children from Daniel as the ultimate canticle of thanks.

I found some special decorative fall-themed papers that I copied a few of these verses in calligraphy. I shared these with the children so they could create their own prayer cards for their own families. We discussed how we thank God for all His gifts to us, and besides thanks and thanksgiving, other words like praise and bless also are part of the “vocabulary” of gratitude. I provided a variety because the children differ in writing and reading skills and I also wanted to make sure there were enough choices for the large group of children.

There are so many psalms of gratitude and praise. I found my sons also enjoyed exploring the Book of Psalms finding the verses of thanksgiving that spoke to them. Perhaps in a quiet moment today your older children could create a prayer card, either from the suggested psalms above, or through their own exploration.

While we are thinking of thanking God, a popular way to thank Him is before we take our first bites of the delicious Thanksgiving meal we can pray a special Thanksgiving meal prayer to thank Him for all His gifts. As a little Thanksgiving gift, I created a little prayer card to use for the Thanksgiving meal. The main prayer draws from the collect prayer for the Mass of the day, and the psalm quote is one suggested for today’s Mass.

May God bless you and yours.

Thanksgiving Meal Prayers

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, home schooler, and authority on living the liturgical year. She is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org's liturgical year section. See full bio.

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