On October 3, 1789, President George Washington received a message from Congress requesting him “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.”
His proclamation declared that the day “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.”
Thanksgiving has roots in recognizing the many blessings that God has given us, as individuals and collectively as a country. More than 230 years later, millions of Americans continue to celebrate Thanksgiving with an eye toward God as the original source of all for which we have to be grateful.
Although the history of this uniquely American holiday is steeped in appreciation for the divine, it’s not always easy to carve out time for prayer during a day that can be jam-packed with distractions ranging from cooking timers to cheerful parades.
Hallow is here to help, with a wide range of prayer options to fit your Thanksgiving plans and keep God at the center of your celebration.
Thanksgiving Prayers in the Bible
Sometimes the best prayers are ones that are passed down directly from Scripture.
This passage from the 12th chapter of the Book of Isaiah is particularly relevant for Thanksgiving.
Song of Thanksgiving
On that day, you will say:Isaiah 12:1-6 NABRE
I give you thanks, O Lord;
though you have been angry with me,
your anger has abated, and you have consoled me.
God indeed is my salvation;
I am confident and unafraid.
For the Lord is my strength and my might,
and he has been my salvation.
With joy you will draw water
from the fountains of salvation,
And you will say on that day:
give thanks to the Lord, acclaim his name;
Among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
Sing praise to the Lord for he has done glorious things;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, City of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
Colossian 3:16 provides another way to tie Scripture into your Thanksgiving celebration:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.Colossian 3:16 NABRE
The USCCB also offers daily readings specifically geared toward Thanksgiving.
Prayers for Thanksgiving Morning
Holidays can be stressful, whether hosting or traveling, celebrating with large groups or spending the day alone.
There’s no better way to begin any day than with a short prayer of thanksgiving to God, and that’s especially true on the fourth Thursday in November.
Let Hallow help you start your Thanksgiving with meaningful time with the Lord.
With Hallow, you can join thousands of others in prayer conveniently from your phone, spending time giving thanks to God before the football games kick-off or the gravy is poured.
Download the Hallow app, and before the festivities begin, start your morning with a simple daily prayer such as the rosary or a minute meditation like Jesus I Trust In You.
SEE ALSO: How to Pray the Rosary
Catholic Thanksgiving Prayers
Pausing amid the busyness.
Giving thanks before the meal.
A traditional Catholic Thanksgiving prayer can help remind us of the origins of the day and bring us closer to God by acknowledging His blessings.
It can also bring us peace.
And during a day that can sometimes see kitchen chaos, challenging dynamics, and enough vegetable chopping to make a line cook proud, small moments of inner peace are invaluable.
Consider this prayer of thanksgiving at your table this year if you’re looking for a traditional Catholic or Christian blessing:
Good and gracious God, we give You thanks today, as we do all days, first and foremost for the gift of creation and the gift of life. We ask You to bless this food, that it may nourish us and sustain us, and strengthen our ability to do Your will. We pray in thanksgiving for all the hands involved in bringing it to our table. You tell us, Lord, that to whom much is given, much is expected. May this meal and the fellowship we enjoy not only serve as clear reminders of Your love of us, but of Your call for us to share Your love and to serve our brothers and sisters, especially those most in need. We ask this as we ask all things, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Simple Thanksgiving Dinner Prayers
Perhaps you’re interested in more of a simple Thanksgiving table blessing. Many families begin a meal by “saying grace,” and Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be an exception.
Although most Thanksgiving dinners are unlike any other meal, the prayer before it doesn’t have to be a “special” prayer.
Indulging in grandma’s legendary stuffing and mom’s special sweet potato dish might make it feel like the prayer needs to be consummate to the extraordinary meal.
But take solace in knowing that the quality of prayer has nothing to do with its length. Simple prayers can convey just as much gratitude as longer ones.
See some of the examples of simple Thanksgiving blessing prayers below:
Heavenly Father, we gather together today with hearts filled with gratitude. This meal we share reminds us of the endless blessings You’ve bestowed upon us. We pray in thanksgiving not only for this food we share, but in all the ways You’ve shown us Your love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Dear God, we thank You for this meal and for all the hands that helped prepare it. We give You thanks most of all for the gift of Your Son, Jesus. Please bless the food we eat, all who are gathered today to share it, and all our loved ones who can’t be with us today. We ask this as we ask all things, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Even a common dinner prayer is a great option:
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
SEE ALSO: How to Pray the 54 Day Novena
Thanksgiving Prayers Remembering Those Who’ve Died
The holidays can be difficult for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. We often have many happy memories from celebrating past holidays with those who are no longer with us.
With November being the month of remembrance, the Thanksgiving blessing can be a perfect time to ask for God’s prayers for family members and friends whom we’ve lost in the past year.
Consider the following prayer to remember those who have passed away:
Heavenly Father, we come to You today with grateful hearts, recognizing the many gifts You’ve given us that have allowed for this special meal to come together. Still, we acknowledge our sadness that our gathering today feels incomplete. We lift up to You our dearly departed, [Say names of lost loved ones] and ask You to bless them as you bless us. We’re comforted by the promise of Your Kingdom and look forward to one day sharing together in a heavenly feast with all those who are not with us today. In Your name, we pray. Amen.
The Hallow app also offers a litany for the dead that can help you remember deceased loved ones of all generations.
Thanksgiving Prayers In Mixed Company
It can be easiest to lead the table blessing before the meal and offer a distinctly Catholic prayer when you’re the host and when entertaining a smaller group of guests.
In larger settings, with mixed company, or if you’re at someone else’s home, it can be more challenging to join together a large group for a traditional Catholic blessing.
If you’re not hosting the meal, you may still volunteer to lead a prayer (or you might get asked!). A more general prayer that both non-believers and devout rosary aficionados might find agreeable is the way to go.
Give thought to using a short prayer that celebrates the beauty of diversity within God’s creation, like the following:
Divine Creator, maker of the universe and all the beauty that lives within it, we give thanks for this meal and for all the good in our lives. We think of our many brothers and sisters who go without, each and every day. May this feast compel us to work to better care for all of those in the world who need our love and generosity the most. Amen.
Thanksgiving Prayers for Children
With full houses and big celebrations, it’s not uncommon for families to have a “kids table” at Thanksgiving, where grandchildren, younger cousins, and other family members will enjoy the meal.
This is a great opportunity to introduce children to the importance of prayer.
And a great chance to let them lead it!
Here’s a short prayer you can print out for younger Thanksgiving guests, to cultivate the habit of giving thanks to God before all meals and celebrations:
Thank you, God, for this past year, Thank you, God, for family here, Thank you, God, for this delicious food, Thank you, God, for all that’s good! Amen.
Thanksgiving Prayers on Hallow
On the Hallow app, you’ll find many great options for prayers centered around gratitude.
Our Gratitude Praylist includes a Lectio Divina on giving thanks always and another on the 10 lepers. The app also offers an Examen called “Reflecting on Your Blessings,” perfect as a nighttime prayer when you finally return home or when the last guest leaves.
Giving thanks is important; we make it easy.
Thanksgiving and Preparing for Advent Prayer
You’ll still have Thanksgiving leftovers in your fridge when Advent begins, so spending some time in prayer amid all the turkey is a great spiritual tune-up to the important liturgical season preparing for Christmas.
Hallow is your go-to resource for your Advent prayers, providing you an easy way to draw closer to God during a time when the outside world can make that most challenging.
This year, Hallow is launching #Pray25 with Mary. Join us as we walk alongside Mary, exploring the virtues of Hope, Faith, and Joy.