Don’t pray through this outline before Thanksgiving dinner

I was unprepared by the somber joy that came by simply reading over Henry’s outline–joy in the weight of blessings and sobriety in the poverty of my thanks.

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count. {Psa 40:5, NAS}

Giving thanks may be more than an exercise of the mind but it’s certainly not less. As such, our thanksgivings (daily habit and annual observance) are enriched when biblical insight is wedded to personal reflection.

In his book Method for Prayer, Matthew Henry (1662-1714) laid out a Scripture-saturated guide to aide Christians in prayer. The fourth part of prayer he designated as a time of “thanksgivings for the mercies we have received from God and the many favors of His we are interested in and have and hope for benefit by.” Along these lines he advised Christians to be specific in our thanks which, as you’ll see below, is no easy task!

I was unprepared for the somber joy that came by simply reading over Henry’s outline — joy in the weight of blessings and sobriety in the poverty of my thanks. Do with this what you will but it couldn’t hurt to think & pray through this list over our Thanksgiving holiday:

  • (2.1) Marvel at the Goodness of His Nature
  • (2.2) Thank God for the Many Instances of His Goodness
    • (2.2.1) For His Kind Providence Demonstrated throughout the World
      • Thank God for the Many Instances of His Goodness and Kind Providence
      • Thank God for the Many Instances of His Goodness and Kind Providence (continued)
    • (2.2.2) For His Kind Providence Demonstrated in you in Being Made in His Image
    • (2.2.3) For His Kind Providence in Preserving you
    • (2.2.4) For His Kind Providence in Granting Recoveries from Danger
    • (2.2.5) For His Kind Providence in Granting the Supports and Comforts of this Life
    • (2.2.6) For His Kind Providence in Granting you Successes
    • (2.2.7) For His Kind Providence in Granting you the Peace you Experience
    • (2.2.8) For His Grace to your Soul for Designing Man’s Redemption and Salvation
    • (2.2.9) For His Grace in His Eternal Purposes Concerning Redemption
    • (2.2.10) For His Grace for Appointing the Redeemer
    • (2.2.11) For His Grace for the Early Indications of His Gracious Design
    • (2.2.12) For His Grace for the Many Glorious Instances of His Favor to the Old Testament Church
    • (2.2.13) For His Grace in the Wonderful Incarnation of the Son of God
    • (2.2.14) For His Gracious Owning of Christ in His Undertaking
    • (2.2.15) For Christ’s Holy Life, Excellent Doctrine, and Glorious Miracles
    • (2.2.16) For Christ’s Encouragement to Sinners to Come to Him
    • (2.2.17) For the Cross of Christ and All its Benefits
    • Thank God for the Cross of Christ and All its Benefits (continued)
    • (2.2.18) For Christ’s Resurrection
    • (2.2.19) For Christ’s Ascension into Heaven
    • (2.2.20) For Christ’s Intercession
    • (2.2.21) For the Dominion and Sovereignty to which the Redeemer has been Exalted
    • (2.2.22) For the Assurance you have of Christ’s Second Coming
    • (2.2.23) For the Sending of the Holy Spirit
    • (2.2.24) For the Covenant of Grace
    • (2.2.25) For the Scriptures
    • (2.2.26) For the Institution of Ordinances, Particularly that of the Ministry
    • (2.2.27) For Planting His Church in the World
    • (2.2.28) For the Preservation of Christianity in the World to this Day
    • (2.2.29) For the Martyrs and Confessors who have Gone Before you
    • (2.2.30) For the Communion of Saints
    • (2.2.31) For the Hope of Eternal Life
    • (2.2.32) For the Work of the Spirit within you
    • (2.2.33) For Every Spirit-Wrought Inward Change
    • (2.2.34) For the Remission of your Sins and Peace of Conscience
    • (2.2.35) For the Powerful Influences of Divine Grace
    • (2.2.36) For Sweet Communion with Him in Holy Ordinances
    • (2.2.37) For Gracious Answers to your Prayers
    • (2.2.38) For Support under your Afflictions
    • (2.2.39) For the Performance of His Promises

Thanksgiving food for thought

There is no true Christianity apart from thankfulness.

I could go for some Thanksgiving right about now and it has nothing to do with the food. Check that. Maybe it has something to do with the food. I mean, have you ever had a Thanksgiving meal in the South? I pity those who haven’t but it’s probably for the best–much easier to never have than to have and then try to do without.

Anyway, since I’m anticipating this year’s Thanksgiving my thoughts keep returning to the essential nature of gratitude which, in turn, reminds me that there is no true Christianity apart from thankfulness.

To wit:

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. {Romans 1:21, NAS}

The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank. — Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful, though I hardly knew to whom. Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs? We thank people for birthday presents of cigars and slippers.Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth? –G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

…we must be persuaded not only that as he once formed the world, so he sustains it by his boundless power, governs it by his wisdom, preserves it by his goodness, in particular, rules the human race with justice and judgment, bears with them in mercy, shields them by his protection; but also that not a particle of light, or wisdom, or justice, or power, or rectitude, or genuine truth, will anywhere be found, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause; in this way we must learn to expect and ask all things from him, and thankfully ascribe to him whatever we receive. For this sense of the divine perfections is the proper master to teach us piety, out of which religion springs. By piety I mean that union of reverence and love to God which the knowledge of his benefits inspires. For, until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is the author of all their blessings, so that naught is to be looked for away from him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; no, unless they place their entire happiness in him, they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity. — John Calvin (Institutes 1.2.1; emphasis added)