Matthew 6:9-13 The Lord’s Prayer for Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving November 23, 2017
By Pastor Kenneth Mellon, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend, WI
On this day of Thanksgiving we think of our heavenly Father who showers His grace and peace in Christ.
We read from Matthew 6:9-13 regarding the Lord’s Prayer.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. May they lead us to pray for blessings to our lives and our country.
Dear Christians on this Thanksgiving (Eve) Day:
It may seem strange to you that I am preaching about the Lord’s Prayer for Thanksgiving. I am applying what Martin Luther used to do in his prayer life. He would say the Lord’s Prayer with a specific situation in mind. If someone was sick, he would pray each petition for the sick person i.e. he would say, “Our Father”, You are the heavenly Father of my sick friend. You have promised to care for him as Your child. As You hear my prayer and answer in the best way possible may Your name be honored and Your will be done to heal my friend’s sickness. And he would apply each petition for him. So, we will apply
The Lord’s Prayer for Thanksgiving
We begin with: Our Father. The word father brings to mind our forefathers who founded this country. The early settlers of our nation were willing to sacrifice many comforts to leave their native lands and risk death on board small ocean-going ships like the Mayflower. We think of the hunger and hardships that they faced to settle and claim this land and later fight for this nation which we have as our inheritance. We have much to be thankful for when we think of the forefathers of this nation!
All the more we thank God our heavenly Father. He created us, and after we sinned, He sent His Son from heaven to voyage to this sinful earth to rescue us from death. He had Jesus not only risk His life, but give His life in order to establish a place for us in heaven. We thank our heavenly Father for the gift of eternal life! Along with that through Jesus we have a bond with God now as our loving father. He has promised to care for us. He has provided for us with food, family, and a blessed country. He has protected us from the constant dangers of this world. It is only right that we call to Him and to give thanks to Him as our loving Father in heaven. God is not far away. He has power to accomplish all that He promises for us.
Next is hallowed be Thy name. The name of God stands for everything that He has revealed about Himself. It is all the truths of the Bible. We pray that God’s truths will be honored by all and that God keep us from false beliefs. Again, we think of the early pilgrims and why they came to America. It wasn’t only for the land or opportunity to work. It was for religious freedom. In the 17th and 18th centuries people were persecuted for their faith in Christ. America gave them an opportunity to worship God in truth. The same thing happened in the 1800’s as Germans and Norwegians came to America to escape forced false teaching in the lands in which they lived. Those early settlers could bring only a few items in a trunk on board the ship. But they always included a Bible and small hymnal so they could teach the truth to their families. We thank God that we still have freedom to proclaim God’s Word in truth and honor the name of our God.
Thy kingdom come! As Christians, we live in two realms, one is the U.S.A. and the other is the kingdom of God. Above all, we are praying that God’s kingdom will continue to grow here in our nation and around the world as more people hear God’s Word of Christ. We also pray for our nation, knowing that a nation at peace will have more opportunities to proclaim His word and God’s kingdom grow. Paul wrote, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. As great as our nation is, we know that evil is constantly ready to break out against us. We can see that in the mass shootings in our land but in other ways, too. We pray that God would break the power of the devil and hinder his wicked schemes so that innocent people of our nation will not be harmed. We are also praying that God will defend us so that we are not overcome by sins. How can we make positive changes in our country? Will new elections? Will more laws and rules help? They may deter some evil. But ultimately it is God with His powerful Word that will help people to repent of their sins and turn to Christ for forgiveness. We are praying for God’s will to be done to change hearts of all people by the power of the Gospel so people love what is good rather than evil.
Give us this day our daily bread. This portion of the Lord’s prayer is what we usually include in Thanksgiving. Luther’s explanation of “What do we mean by daily bread?” includes: “everything we need for our body and life such as food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, land and cattle, money and goods, a godly spouse, godly children, godly workers, godly and faithful leaders, good government, good weather, peace and order, health, a good name, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.” On this Thanksgiving Day we thank the Lord for providing these and many more blessing. We ask Him in this petition to help us be content and to trust in Him for daily provisions. We pray that God will give us abilities to work or to provide other means of income so we can meet the needs of others and ourselves. What a blessing to our land if all people were praying this prayer and using their abilities for good!
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. The word “forgive” means to send away. As a nation or as individuals, we confess that we have sinned against God and against each other. We have failed to follow God’s commands; we have failed to serve our families and our God with our whole hear;, we have failed to serve other Christians and people in need. We must all plead: “Forgive us good Lord for the sake of Christ’s sacrifice and take away our sins. Also, help us to put behind us the sins that others have done against us.” How much heart-ache and how many problems in our nation are there because people remain bitter or hold grudges against others instead of forgiving them! Our debt to God was immense. Yet Christ paid it in full. God help us to forgive the small debts of others against us!
Lead us not into temptation. God does not tempt us for evil. But, we are praying that He would keep us strong and alert to stand against the devil’s temptations. We are asking that God would keep the Christians in our nation from becoming idle in prayer or not reading His Word, so that we are prepared for the devil’s attacks. The devil is constantly trying to stir up strife and dissension, especially among believers. We are praying that God give us wisdom and strength for the sake of Christ and His kingdom to overcome the devil’s temptations.
Deliver us from evil. Our country is blessed, but also has many problems. The recent scandals in Hollywood are only the fraction of immorality here. We Christians are not immune from evil influences. Too often we love gifts instead of the Giver and think of our greatness instead of God’s goodness. By asking God to deliver us from evil, we want Him to keep us faithful and to help us commit our lives into His hands. Our country is on a slippery slope. But, God stands beside us to protect us from evil. We will not fall when we have His Word! We are blessed to live in this good land! Yet, the ultimate blessings will be in heaven!
So, today we have applied the Lord’s Prayer for Thanksgiving. There are many more ways that you can apply this prayer personally with requests, intercessions, and thanksgiving for your families, church, and country. Whether we gather for a special meal today or not, when we say the meal prayer, let us take time to include the Lord’s Prayer to thank God who has given us all good things in Christ. Amen.