On Thanksgiving Day, when moisture begins collecting on the windows from the heat in the kitchen, our family heads outdoors. We take a walk, and as we walk along beside each other, we express our gratitude to God. We usually designate a place to begin: “When we get to the top of the hill, Bob, will you start our prayer time?” We always designate a place to end: “I’ll conclude our thanks when we get to the railroad.” (Having a designated end makes everyone more at ease—especially teenagers who might worry, “This could go on forever!”)
At the designated starting place, my husband begins, “Good morning, Heavenly Father, our family wants to express our gratitude to You. I will begin by thanking You for ___________________. Your kindness has been a blessing to me.” Then I pray. I thank God for something specific, followed by our oldest son, then our middle son, and ending with our youngest son. After he prays, my husband prays again, thanking God for another specific item, and we all take turns again.
To say we pray specifically doesn’t mean our words are precise and clipped. We pray in a conversational tone, really talking to the Father as we verbalize our gratitude. For instance, “Father, this year has been a tough one for me in many ways. There were moments when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. If it hadn’t been for You, I wouldn’t have. Thanks for seeing me through.”
When each of us has covered the things we want to mention to God, we say “I pass” when our turn comes. The rest of us continue taking turns until we’re all done or until we reach our designated ending spot. Then I close our family’s prayers of thanks.