prayer power “Thanks for everything”
By Mervyn Morelock ,Lt. Colone
Each year around this time we begin to think of pumpkins and turkeys and families getting together for a Thanksgiving feast.
Thanksgiving didn’t start with the Pilgrims in Massachusetts. It began with the ancient Jews. They left their homes and dwelt for a week in booths made from the branches of palm, olive or myrtle trees. The Greeks had a Thanksgiving Day called the Feast of Demeter. The Romans observed a day of honor of Ceres, the fabled goddess of cornfields and gardens. In old England, the Harvest Home Festival was observed at the full of the September moon. It was as popular a celebration as Christmas, and Queen Elizabeth I ordered that there should be no “servile labor” performed on this day.
But it was the Pilgrims who began our American celebration of Thanksgiving. And they had good reason to celebrate, because they were alive in the new land, even though the cruel winter before had taken many lives due to the bitter cold and lack of food. They had something to be thankful for, and they offered many prayers to Almighty God for their survival.
What character trait most clearly reveals a person’s moral and spiritual health? Is it love? Is it integrity? Is it kindness, cheerfulness, or trust? Opinions differ, to be sure.
In his essay, “Who really gives thanks?” Otto Fredrich Bollnow said, “There is hardly another quality of man that is so suited to reveal the state of his inner spiritual and moral health…as his capacity to be grateful.”
Benjamin Franklin said, “The sentence which has most influenced my life is ‘some persons grumble because God placed thorns among the roses. Why not thank God because he placed roses among the thorns?’ I first read it when but a mere lad. Since that day it has occupied a front room in my life and has given it an optimistic trend.”
Yet, when the Franklins received a barrel of pork, young Benjamin could not understand why grace should be said over it every day before each meal. He asked his parents why they did not just ask a blessing over the entire barrel!
T.J. Villers said, “Millions want to lump their thanksgiving, instead of daily repeating it.”
He continues, “In our national calendar only one day is set aside for Thanksgiving, wherein the President and Governor exhort us to cease from our daily work, and in our homes and accustomed places of worship, devoutly give thanks to the Almighty for the many and great favors we have received. It would be preferable to have just one day wherein to voice our croaks and complaints, our disappointments and dissatisfaction, our grunts, and growls, and grumbles, and leave the other 364 days in which to bless the Lord who satisfies our mouth with good things, forgives all our iniquities, redeems our lives from destruction and crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies! We should be more like Ebenezer Scrooge, for when Christmas came into his heart he tried to keep it every day! So let us honor Thanksgiving in our hearts, and observe it all the year!”
God’s blessings are continuous and they call for continuous gratitude. We are entitled to no days off from giving thanks!
One of Rabbi Ben Jochai’s disciples approached his master and inquired, “Why did not God supply enough manna to Israel for a whole year, all at one time?”
“I will answer you,” the Jewish leader replied, “with a parable. Once there was a king who had a son to whom he gave a yearly allowance. It soon happened that the day the allowance was due, was the only day in the year when the father saw the son. So the king changed his plan, and gave his son, day by day, that which sufficed for the day. Now, the son visited that father every morning, realizing his continual need of his father’s love, companionship, wisdom and giving.”
Recently, a graduate of the ARC expressed thanksgiving to his wife. She had the police arrest him, put him in jail and then escort him to the ARC. And for the first time since he was 16, he was able to stop drinking. He found Christ, and was starting a new life, clean and sober. He was thankful that his wife loved him enough to have him arrested. Her prayers are answered, and so are his.
Our prayers will have power when we include praise and thanksgiving!
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