Prayers for a Congregation #2

[Prayer Spark: Thanksgiving. I prayed this at Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church’s Thanksgiving Day 2013 service. Putting up a couple days late….you know, the holidays.]

God, we thank you.

We thank you for every last blessing you pour into our lives. We thank you for the blessings we take for granted: for freedom to worship, for warm spaces to gather, for food on tables and in our bellies, for clothes on our back, for coats hanging on hangers. We thank you for the most basic elements of life: for the air we breathe, for the water that washes and quenches, for fire that fuels and heats.

We thank you for the blessings of one another: for each person in this building—from those who sit in these seats for the first time to those who’ve come here their whole lives. We thank you for the vastness of our personalities and our abilities, for the gifts and callings you’ve given each of us. Thank you for pastors and musicians, for elders and deacons, for staff members and volunteers.

And we thank you for the people we love beyond these walls. We thank you for the gifts of friendships and families, for colleagues and neighbors. We thank you that in one other we can see your image in the people we laugh with, cry with, dream with, share with, work with and play with.

But God, we know you are not only a God who give gifts, but that you are also a God who allows them to slip away.

This year, for many recent life experiences make it hard to give thanks. Even for the most basic elements. Many of us have lost loved ones—and lost them far too soon. Many of us have lost opportunities and dreams and jobs and money and health.

For many of us the words thank you ring hollow. Some of us have few words of gratitude, as we suffer. We wish we could thank you for healing or help or for preventing heartache. But it never came. So instead all we can do is shake our heads or fists at you, wondering where you are or what you are up to.

And yet, even in this, even as we bring you our pain or frustration or anger, in all that is our gratitude—our thanks for being a God who accepts broken hearts as a sacrifice, for being a God who hears us, who sees us and who is with us. In the times of giving and in times of taking away, you are with us. And you are good.

And for this, we thank you. Even when we don’t understand, thank you that your goodness prevails. Thank you for loving us through our doubts and through our faith, through our laments and through our praise.

Thank you for the riches and bounty of this life that come—not merely from the daily blessings—but from the abundance of your steadfast, unending love. Of which we are not worthy, but through which we have our only hope. And every reason to give thanks.

In your name alone, Amen.

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