Wide OpenPhoto by Brian Auer/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0

Thanksgiving is a time when many families gather in gratitude, and sometimes in prayer. Paul Raushenbush says his family prayer was written by his great-grandad, Walter Rauschenbusch. Composed around the turn of the twentieth century, the theologian and Baptist social reformer’s words remain as beautiful and poignant today as they did a hundred years ago.

Thanksgiving Day Prayer
by Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918)

For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Do you have a family prayer that you recite on Thanksgiving? How does your family give thanks?

Share Your Reflection




When our children were very little, we found a simple sweet prayer that they could remember and recite with us.  And now years later with everyone all grown up, it has become a tradition to recite this same prayer at Thanksgiving with young and old around the table.

God, we thank you for this food.
For rest and home and all things good.
For wind and rain and sun above.
But most of all for those we love.

~ Author unknown

I've used this Indian prayer I saw in the Washington Post long ago.

The Thanksgiving

We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to populate the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs on our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all.
We thank Him for the shadows of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works for our good.
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.
We thank Him for His goodness in making the forests, and thank all the trees.
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs, the stars.
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who have charge of our harvests.
We give Him thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.
We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant occasion.
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit's music, and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies on this occasion.

Indian Prayer transcribed by Harriet Maxwell Converse

As we approach that one special day set aside to focus our collective attention on ALL that we have to be thankful for, this poem by Walter Rauschenbusch, "Thanksgiving Day Prayer," reminds us to giveThanks.

Thank you for the beauty and love.

"Do you have a family prayer that you recite on Thanksgiving?" I do now. Thank You and the Raushenbushes!

Just heard this on the radio and had to find it. I am a Baptist pastor in the ABC-USA denomination, as was W. Rauschenbusch. Met Paul briefly at Princeton and loved what he is doing. I've also met Jack Caputo and have appreciated his writings, especially helping me understand Derrida. But then when I opened up this page I was delighted by the photo--a couple years ago I gave my wife a gift of flying for finishing her graduate degree, and she went parasailing at Torrey Pines just like that. So I feel like this broadcast has really been for me!

We're so glad to hear this. It's also nice to get feedback on the photographs we use since we place a lot of emphasis on meaningful images that take the text deeper. Cheers.

This brings to mind the poem by Uriah Fields, "Some Call It Et Cetera; I Call It God": http://uriahfields.com/gpage3....

Our family is from a variety of religious traditions--and none--so we like this one--Roberta

From air and soil, from bees and sun,from others' toil my bread is won.

And when I bite, the soil and air,
the bees and light are still there.

So I must think each day afresh
how food and drink become my fliesh.

And then I'll see the air, the sun,
the Earth, the bee and me,
are One.  

~Edna J. Ortez in Five loaves and Two Fishes

What a wonderful poem; thank you for sharing this! I'm adopting this one.  And looking up Edna Ortez...

At this time of year, I always think of probably the most
meaningful prayer/poem/explanation I remember hearing/reading about
Thanksgiving.  I've copied under Facebook Favorite Quotes.  Hope all who
read it like it as much as I do.


The Miracle of Thanksgiving:

The Glorious Privilege To Give Thanks


Raymond E Jager (layperson in Chevy
Chase, MD, area church, November


As remembered (with the help
of notes make from a lost tape of the prayer) by Judith Barlow Porter June 21,



Oh lord, may we realize that
our blessings are as constantly with us as our heartbeats

And as overlooked.


Help us to be aware of our
abundant gifts—more numerous than the breaths of air we inhale

And as unlikely to be



May we give thanks not for
just rare and unexpected gifts but also for the countless ordinary taken for
granted gifts with which our lives are filled to overflowing and that on
examination are marvelous to behold.


May we be more conscious of
the truly bounteous supply of our blessings.


Illumine for us that by
heavenly design everything is worth as much as we value it—as much and nothing


We are poor or rich to the
extent of our comprehension of our riches—to the extent of our appreciation of
our blessings.


Unappreciated, anything is
nothing.  We are as rich in blessings as
our appreciation of them.


“Even when we pray tearfully, help us to remember to pray thankfully.

        Let tears not blind us to
incontrovertible fact:

        No loss, however great,
can be quite so tremendous

        As was the gift

        That leaves a residue of
happy memories.

        And what loss has ever
been so barren?


Comfort us with understanding

        Of your scales of mercy,
such that

        In balance,

        The greater the loss,
invariably still greater the gift

        That in passing leaves
behind some unforgettable joy.”


Help us to appreciate before
our loss.


The act of appreciation
fulfills our own great personal need.


Thanks and thanks-giving are
available to us in any amount.


Only by holding our gifts in
front of our eyes and seeing them and appreciating them are we blessed with the
miracle of thanksgiving.


Around the corner is a
church, a special place to give thanks.


Jesus taught and intelligence
shows that the extent of our thanksgiving is the extent of our redemption.


Let us thank others for their
kindnesses and appreciate how important thanksgiving is to us.


Truly it is better to give
than receive thanks.


Our heartbeats and breaths
are mere punctuations between our long streams of blessings.


May we appreciate and
celebrate the glorious privilege it is to give thanks.




I try to read Psalm 104, when the fam will sit still for it.

My family says this prayer at special meals:
The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the
world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's
live's may be
I go and I lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the
great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought 
of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world,
and am free.
Wendell Berry

This whole interview was a wonderful blessing for my post-Thanksgiving walk.  Thank you, thank you.  

 This year, I wrote and read my own Thanksgiving prayer for the first time ever.

A Thanks-Giving Prayer:

God of Grace,
Thank You for the nourishment that sustains us;
Let us reflect on those who hunger.
Thank You for the strength that wills us;
Let us remember those in illness and deceit.
Thank You for your blessing
of Spiritual and Civic freedoms;
Let us be advocates for those who are oppressed.
May all of these gifts remind us
To use our talents for the benefit
Of our Brothers and Sisters.

Our daughter brought this one home from her preschool down the street:
 Bless us dear Lord, this day is for you. And we ask that you bless all we think, say, and do.

The info is very useful