As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, take a few moments to consider the words of author Wilfred A. Peterson. He takes the celebration of Thanksgiving to a higher level in his reading The Art of Thanksgiving:
It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly.
It is thanking God for your talents and abilities by accepting them as obligations to be invested for the common good.
It is thanking God for all that men and women have done for you by doing things for others.
It is thanking God for opportunities by accepting them as a challenge to achievement.
It is thanking God for happiness by striving to make others happy.
It is thanking God for beauty by helping to make the world more beautiful.
It is thanking God for inspiration by trying to be an inspiration to others.
It is thanking God for health and strength by the care and reverence you show your body.
It is thanking God for the creative ideas that enrich life by adding your own creative contributions to human progress.
It is thanking God for each new day by living it to the fullest.
It is thanking God by giving hands, arms, legs, and voice to your thankful spirit.
It is adding to your prayers of thanksgiving, acts of thanksliving.
Peterson's words so beautifully challenge me not to just be thankful, but to live my life thankfully. This month in your small group, consider an active night of prayer to live out your thankfulness in your community. Begin your regular meeting night with a time of worship and praise. Sing choruses or hymns with CD, piano, or guitar accompaniment. Read a psalm in between songs then spend a few minutes speaking out words and prayers of thanksgiving. Make this time a celebration of who God is and who he created you and your group members to be.
Next, send your group out in the community in teams of three or four. During this time encourage them to put feet to their prayers of thanksgiving by choosing one of the following activities.
Drive to the church, and if possible, go into the sanctuary. Spread out and pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the pastor, the members, and those who have visited the church. Pray for those seeking a relationship with Christ that they will be drawn into the church and that God would speak to their heart through the service and the message. If it can be arranged ahead of time, give the janitors a break by cleaning the restrooms and/or vacuuming as you pray.
Drive to an area school. Pick a school where group members' children attend. Walk around the perimeter of the school and pray a prayer of thanksgiving. Thank God for the staff and the students. Pray for what is being taught and for any specific needs per your group member's requests. Bring along large trash bags and pick up trash as you pray.
Go to the food court at the mall. Sit together at a table and spend some time thanking God for the employees and customers. Pray for the individual stores. Intercede for those whose inventory does not glorify God and thank him for those stores that do glorify him. Then take some time to pick up trash and return trays.
have everyone meet back together at a designated time and allow 20-30 minutes for your group members to share their experiences. Enjoy some refreshments and close with a time of group prayer placing all the night's efforts into the hands of God.