The prayer behind many Thanksgiving prayers

Jimmy Stewart’s performance in the movie, Shenandoah, has long been a favorite of mine. His straightforward, common-sense honesty warmly commends his character, Charlie Anderson. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is Anderson’s prayer around the dinner table with his family. Despite his best efforts to give thanks, his honest ignorance of God’s grace just won’t let him.

The result is a comical and insightful glimpse into fallen human nature. Today, as Thanksgiving is celebrated all across our nation by religious and irreligious, my guess is that few Charlie Anderson-like prayers will be vocalized. But the reason for that has more to do with a lack of honest forthrightness than with disagreement with his world-view. His prayer is probably an accurate representation of what’s behind many Thanksgiving prayers today.

Those of us who have been rescued by the grace of God know better, even if we do not always demonstrate that knowledge in our attitudes and actions. “What do you have that you did not receive?” asks the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 4:7). As Moses reminded the Israelites, it is God “who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

As I celebrate this day with family and friends, many of whom I have not seen in years, I want to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, as well. May the grace of God that has been given to us in His Son fill us all with true joy and gratitude today and always.