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.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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