Our first President, George Washington proclaimed a special day of Thanksgiving. In his proclamation he said “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor . . . I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be . . .” We are to set aside this time to remember the blessings of God on our lives and our nation.
This first proclamation was issued not as a national holiday to be celebrated every year but as a one-time event. Set Days of Thanksgiving to God were not uncommon in the American colonies but it was up to the Governors and each President to call for these special times to give thanks. It wasn’t until a generation later when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November a national day of Thanksgiving. His proclamation acknowledged God and His mercy as reasons we should devote a day to thanking Him. So this week we will celebrate Thanksgiving with feasting, family, friends and football. Not that there is anything wrong with celebrating with those things but if we forget the original purpose then it is just another holiday whose purpose has been forgotten.
Why has thankfulness become such a distant part of our yearly Thanksgiving celebration? Part of the problem is that we have not been taught to be thankful to God because He has been removed from our textbooks. Currently, here in Texas we have included in our textbook curriculum that our laws are based on the foundation of the Ten Commandments. This has created quite an uproar with the supposition that it is not based in fact. When the truth is, those who complain do not know our history or the history of western civilization. Therefore, they speak from a position of ignorance.
But, even those of us who acknowledge God in our daily lives get caught up in the football and the start of the Christmas shopping season. This year make it a priority to read Washington’s words and remember how God saved the Pilgrims from shipwreck on their journey here and then from starvation in their first two years at Plymouth. If He saved the Pilgrims in their quest for religious freedom and opportunity then He will hear our prayers of Thanksgiving and reach down from heaven and save the United States of America.
Thanksgiving Day Prayer:
Heavenly Father, Ruler of the Universe and Giver of all Life hear our heartfelt thanks for your goodness, mercy and grace on our nation, our state, our family and our lives. Forgive us for forgetting that everything good in our lives comes from you.
Because of you, Lord, our nation has offered safe haven for all peoples all over the world and provided to all the opportunity to pursue their dreams and worship as they choose. This could not have happened except for your hand on this great land.
Forgive us for neglecting our duty as citizens of this nation and allowing a small minority to turn the direction of the nation away from you and true liberty and towards the tyranny of big government. Help us to become a truly grateful people who will live to honor you daily.
In the name of Jesus I pray,