By Alicia Searl, Crosswalk.com
Thanksgiving is knocking at the back door, and pretty soon, so will all those family and friends, dear loved ones, and long-distance relatives. The children will be running all around the house, eager with anticipation, adding to the laughter and interrupting the murmurs of the adults catching up on conversations. The smells pouring out of the kitchen will cause rumbling tummies as everyone waits to dig in, only to go into a food coma later on. Hmmm…bliss!
Oh, my friend, are you ready? It's about that time!
Whether you travel or host, bring a dish, or make the whole meal, Thanksgiving is rolling out the welcome mat once again and sweetly calling us to be full of grace and gratitude. It's whispering for us to count our blessings while taking stock of those in need. It's prompting us to take a look at the loved ones that surround us, the people God has so graciously given us as family, and inviting us to pause and give thanks.
But, in all honesty, as wonderful as it is to see everyone, including those long-distance relatives, this precious time of year can induce quite a bit of stress as well. Right? Yep! There is a lot of prep and planning that goes into making Thanksgiving memorable. And it can quickly lead us to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
As Thanksgiving draws in, maybe you have some family interactions that you're really looking forward to, but there are also those where you must tread lightly. Perhaps the thought of Thanksgiving brings on excitement, as well as dreadful doubts, slowly stealing away your peace. Lots of emotional strings can be attached to this holiday. I get it. From the empty chair at the table to the obnoxious comments from "that one relative." It all adds up, and before you know it, you're harboring a low grumble in your not-so-grateful heart.
So, when that happens, take a moment to step away, catch your breath - and pray! Below are a few pocket prayers you can lift up to the Father when you feel that all-too-familiar heat wave of stress or flush of ill feelings wash over you.
Above all else, you must remember that we cannot allow the enemy to take a foothold in our homes this Thanksgiving (because he will try). But rather, let's allow God to be a vital and active part this year and be intentional about seeking Him. Better yet, let's start right now and prep our hearts as we go into this season.
1. A Prayer for God's Presence
But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7
Good and Faithful God, I thank you for being a God that is always with us, going before us, and charting the way. As we head into this beautiful time of year with family and friends, I invite You to be present and make Yourself known in our conversations, actions, and the motives that derive from our hearts. Help us love as You call us to, and let joy and peace abound as we gather to give You all our thanks and praise. Amen.
2. A Prayer for Peace of Mind
O God, You are so gracious and kind to me. I ask that You grant me peace in these days leading to Thanksgiving. Help posture my heart towards gratitude. When I get wrapped up in the endless demands and anxious thoughts that want to consume me, please calm my troubled heart. Restore Your unfailing peace to my swirling mind by setting my sights back on the goodness embedded in Your Word. Amen.
3. A Prayer to Guand Against Temptations
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Lord, I am so grateful for Your mercy and grace. This time of year often brings on a downward spiral of emotions, leading to temptations that may be out of character. Please forgive me and grant me the strength to restrain from doing or saying things that would dishonor You. Help me put on my armor of protection against the evil one and lean into You when temptations arise. Amen.
4. A Prayer for Preparation
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
Father, You tell us that we should work as if we are working for You. Help me keep that mindset as I head into this holiday season. As I prepare for this season and take on tasks, give me a servant's heart and spirit to love with abundance. Allow me to bring glory to You through my actions, words, and works as we gather to count our blessings. Amen.
5. A Prayer for Fellowship
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of family. Help me see each and every member as You see them, truly treasured and loved. As we come together with family and friends, I ask that You bring us together in a healthy way, providing ways to extend encouragement and sharing Your love with one another. If needed, bring restoration to any broken relationships and heal wounded hearts. I ask this in Your name. Amen.
6. A Prayer for Intentionality
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
Lord, You long for our whole heart and to be intentional with our time. Please prepare my heart for all kinds of interactions and conversations as we gather with family and friends; provide me the words to speak with truth, dignity, and grace. For those who may not know You, give me the right words to speak with truth and plant sweet seeds of faith. Amen.
7. A Prayer to Ward Off the Enemy
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
Jesus, I come to You and command that You reside in our hearts and homes as we gather to celebrate this glorious time of year. As our mighty Savior, I ask that You keep the enemy at bay and fight on our behalf, especially when deceptive plots arise, stealing and sabotaging our joy. Help us stay alert and be on guard against the evil one's schemes by being in tune with You. Help us humble ourselves and embrace the power to walk in grace, love, and self-discipline. I ask all this in the mighty name of Jesus! Amen.
8. A Prayer to Be Still
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14
Faithful Father, You give us a beautiful example in Your Word on how to be still, seek You, and know that You alone are God (Psalm 46:10). There is power in that message. It speaks to Your power and of Your unfailing love for us. However, it is so easy for us to fall into the busyness of this season that we fail to sit, be still, and take in Your precious presence. So, Lord, I pray and ask that You provide ways for us to soak in Your amazing awe and wonder, calling us back to You. Let us bask in Your glory and praise and rejoice in You alone! Amen.
9. A Prayer for Peaceful Gatherings
Now, may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16
Precious God! God of peace, I rejoice in Your name and for the rich abundance of blessings You have so graciously bestowed on my family. Give me a soft heart to cherish the time we have together and unite us in peace this Thanksgiving. Give each of us patience, understanding, and discernment when it comes to the nature of our words and actions toward one another. Please help us interact peacefully and show one another honor, respect, and kindness. Amen.
10. My Prayer for You!
Lord, I pray and lift up the brother or sister reading this today. Please grant them peace and step into their lives this season boldly and powerfully. Grant them the strength to let go of the stress and embrace the goodness You provide this time of year. Shift their focus off the to-do lists, the troublesome family members, and the concerns they may harbor in their hearts, and find peace as they lean into You. Bless their time with their family and cultivate beautiful, lasting memories. We thank you for this special time of year and invite You to have a seat at our table. We are so grateful and thankful for all that You do for us. We love you, Lord! Amen.