While most people gather to feast and give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, it is by no means the only day to express gratitude. Regardless of religious or spiritual affiliation, you can give thanks on a daily or regular basis. The simplest prayer of thanksgiving is a sincere appreciation for what you have. While some religions have standard prayers and prescribed methods for praying, people who do not follow any religious practice can still express gratitude. The important thing is sincerity.
Daily prayers can be brief, and you may give thanks for the same thing every day. For example, Buddhists may give thanks every morning for the day and the life we have. Many Native American prayers give thanks for the air we breathe, the water we have to drink, and all the plants and animals of the earth. Christians may thank God every day for all we are given. When times are tough, it may be difficult to give thanks, but finding at least one thing to be thankful for can help us through adversity. On a daily basis we may give thanks for our health, our home and the companionship of loved ones.
Prayers for Mealtime
Whatever our faith, we have likely heard prayers of thanksgiving at mealtimes. The sentiment behind such prayers is gratitude for the meal we are about to enjoy, along with a wish that we continue to have enough food or other manifestation of good fortune. Taking the time to stop and give thanks before eating can remind us to savor our food and appreciate the people with whom we are sharing the meal.
Thanksgiving Dinner Prayers
Thanksgiving Day is one time of year we gather with family and friends to feast. Traditionally and in modern times, it is a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. The host may lead the prayer or may ask every person to briefly give thanks for something. We give thanks for the sumptuous feast about to be consumed and for the companionship of everyone present. Some people consider Thanksgiving Day a time to look back on the year and remember all the good in our lives.
Prayers for Special Occasions
Sometimes we may have a specific event to give thanks for, such as a job, a visit from friends or the birth of a child. We may be thankful for much-needed rain or snow, or for dry weather that made travel to the event easier. We may be simply celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion. The simplest prayer is heartfelt thanks for whatever we are grateful for. It can be brief, stated in simple language and joyful.
How to Pray
If you do not have a religious practice with specific prayers or methods, simply taking a few moments to quiet your mind and remember what you are thankful for is a way to begin. You may pray aloud or silently, alone or in a group. At mealtimes or other gatherings, you may wish to join hands. You may pray to God or the spiritual entity you believe in. You may give thanks to the food itself, to the cook for preparing it and to one another for friendship and love.
- Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks; Margaret Sutherland
- Living Buddha, Living Christ; Thich Nhat Hanh and Elaine Pagels
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