“What is the shortest prayer you have heard?” was the question reportedly asked by the Children’s Church leader not so many Sundays ago at our church. The answer made me aware that some are listening more than I think and at the same time caused me to laugh out loud. Seems that one young boy who has eaten at my table answered her question by saying, “Pastor Jerry’s prayer for dinner.”
While I am grateful for the abundance that God gives me to eat, I do not always really engage my mind in the grace offered. Sometimes it is a rather perfunctory, “Thanks, Lord. Amen.” I don’t offer lengthy prayers over hot food apparently.
But, the giving of thanks, can be a deeply moving moment as we recognize God, His gifts, and our dependence on Him. At a Thanksgiving dinner for my extended family which I hosted last Saturday, I asked those present to join me in song as our thanks. Our voices raised in union –
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
My heart was stirred in that moment, a surge of emotion powerfully taking hold, an awareness of the Holy Other Present with us.
At the Last Supper, when Jesus took the Passover meal and made it a celebration of His grace gifts to us – the Bread, His Body broken for us; the Wine, His Blood poured out for us – we read that “He took bread, gave thanks and broke it.” (Luke 22:19, NIV) The word in the NT Greek is ‘eucharisteo,’ which is a compound word. “Eu” means ‘good.’ “Charisteo” means to ‘offer freely, to return favor.’ That word is from the same root word, “charis” that we translate ‘grace’ describing God’s incredible gift of life offered to us through Christ Jesus. When Jesus held up the Bread and gave thanks, He offered an overflow of good to God, the very essence of thankfulness.
The Christian life lived at its fullest is formed around our choice for ‘eucharisteo,’ offering an overflow of gratitude to God, our life, our hope, our salvation.
This Thanksgiving do not make the mistake of praying rote, but empty prayers, like that boy has heard at my Sunday dinner table! God deserves more than a polite nod. He is worthy of our praise! And, as we choose to offer up a sacrifice of praise to Him, we will learn to be grateful to those around us who enrich our lives.
Here is a word from the Word. Take it to heart. Live it.
Thank God! He deserves your thanks. His love never quits.
Thank the God of all gods, His love never quits.
Thank the Lord of all lords. His love never quits.
Thank the miracle-working God, His love never quits.
The God whose skill formed the cosmos, His love never quits.
The God who laid out earth on ocean foundations, His love never quits.
Psalm 136:1-6 (The Message)
CoffeeBreak will be back, the good Lord willing, next Monday.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul, Worship His holy name!
Sing like never before, O my soul,
I’ll worship Your holy name.
The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning.
It’s time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes.
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger,
Your name is great and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing,
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find!
And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come,
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore!
Worship Your holy name,
Lord, I’ll worship Your holy name.
Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman© 2011 Atlas Mountain Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) CCLI License # 810055