One of the most wonderful gifts that God has given me — besides my family and friends, cinnamon, Irish Setters, and the color green — is a great love for children. I especially love four-year-olds. God gave me a “new crop” of 4’s each fall of my 11 years at TPK. My love for our great Father God grew as I loved and was loved by hundreds of children and their families. I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving and have “Jesus Loves Me” playing in my head as I write.
We can all look at children and believe that “Jesus Loves the Little Children”, but the lesson of thanksgiving that I continue to enjoy is that we are all His children no matter how old or how far away we think we are from our one and only God.
Everything we learn and experience can be turned into a thanksgiving prayer. Nothing is too big or too small for our God. As I began to teach my children to pray, we started with things they love – colors, animals, flowers, trees, the beach, Mom, Dad, siblings, pets, homes, food, restaurants, books, words, stories, games, and etc. We joyfully thanked God for our blessings and always ended with “we pray all these things in the name of your Son, Jesus, our Lord and Savior.”
By November of the school year in my classroom, the role of “Prayer Leader” was well established. At circle-time, the prayer leader (with my help) would recognize a child with a hand-raised, and paraphrase the child’s request for a repeat-after-me group prayer. Not only did God teach us how to pray but helped develop full sentence structure and English as a second language skills.
When trouble entered lives, a child (Mary) might tell the prayer leader, “Daddy is sick.” The prayer leader would say, “Please heal Mary’s Daddy!” and all the children would repeat, “Please heal Mary’s Daddy!” The next day the prayer leader would ask Mary how her daddy was doing. When the report came back “Great” the prayer leader would instruct the group to raise their hands because we have a praise, then say, “Thank you for healing Mary’s Daddy!” and all would repeat. If the child indicated more prayer was needed, we would pray, “Thank you for Mary’s Daddy, – please continue to heal him.”
If a family/car was in an accident we would pray, “Thank you for keeping (name) safe -and thank you, God, – for the good mechanic – that will fix (name)’s car.” (broken into short phrases for repeat-after-me praying).
When a Grandparent died, we would pray, “Thank you for (name)’s Grandmother – and for taking her to Heaven – Thank you for loving (name)’s Grandmother – and giving her a good long life on earth – so she could know and love (name). Please help (name) and his/her family – because they are sad (Prayers help little people know about feelings).
Even though I am a great dog-lover, I do not tell children that their pet is going to Heaven; however, I don’t tell them it’s not, either. Rather, we say thank you to God for creating such a fine animal that loved and was loved by the child. Additionally, I would usually write down some of the good memories of the pet and casually offer thanksgiving prayers at snack-time or when I observed the child’s sadness – thankful sweet memories bring the sunshine back to little faces.
When a finger got hurt or a knee scraped, we would pray thanksgiving immediately for the brave person who was hurt. “Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you will heal (name) as soon as possible. Please take away the pain and thank you for the perfect healing you have planned for (name). Amen! Let it be so! Amen! (With many friends standing in prayer for the little one, those tears dry up fast.)
The more we prayed for God’s miracles, the more miracles were reported. Our definition of a miracle is something only God can do! Skin rashes and diseases were healed, allergies were overcome, eyes were healed, scars disappeared, new jobs were released, homes were blessed, the sick were made well, sore backs and broken bones were mended, relationships were repaired, lives were made better. My children and I knew that God heard and answered our prayers and our faith grew.
What a joy to know we are loved by our totally awesome God who told us to come to him and to ask and receive. Our God is the ultimate Father who wants only good things for us, his children. Jesus, our Savior, is the perfect big brother, who gave up his life so that we are made perfect in the eyes of our Father. The amazing Holy Spirit joins with our own spirits to empower us to live good and fruitful lives. Thank you, Father; thank you, Jesus; thank you, Holy Spirit.
Turn your blessing prayers into “thank you” prayers:
Thank you Lord that because you tend Your flock like a good shepherd you will gather ___ like a little sheep in Your arms and carry him/her close to Your heart. Isaiah. 40:11.
Thank you Lord Jesus that everything that ____ asks in your name he/she will receive and his/her joy will be complete. John 16:24
Thank you lord Jesus that you will equip _____ with everything good for doing your will, and you will work in him/her what is pleasing to you, Jesus, for your glory. Hebrews 13:21
Thank you Lord Jesus that you are able to make all grace abound in ____, so that in all things at all times, having all that he/she needs, _____ will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
Thank you Lord Jesus that you will take hold of ____’s right hand and say to him/her, “Do not fear; I will help you!” and he/she will trust in you. Isaiah 41:13
Thank you Lord Jesus that you will continue to fill ____ with all joy and peace as he/she trusts in you so that he/she may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Thank you Lord that you will continue to bless ____ so that he/she is joyful always and gives thanks in all circumstances for this is your will for_____ in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Thank you Lord that _____ will let his/her light shine before men that they will see his/her good deeds and praise you, Lord Jesus, and our Father God in Heaven. Matthew 5:16
Thank you Lord Jesus that you have called _____ to a life of constant communion with you. Thank you that you will help him/her acknowledge you in all his ways and you will make ______ pathways straight. Proverbs 3:6
Thank you Lord God that _____ will be rooted and grounded in love and he/she will know the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ and be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:17-19.
Thank you Lord that _____ will speak boldly with reliance upon the Lord who will bear witness to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by ____’s hands. Acts 14:3
Thank you Lord that you will continue to fill ______ with a knowledge of your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that he/she will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please you in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9&10
God bless you and fill you with Happy Thanksgiving Prayers, always.