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Thanksgiving Prayers and Blessings

Updated on November 3, 2014

See the best Thanksgiving prayers and blessings for the holiday, each one on a printable custom graphic. Find your favorite traditional prayer and new selections.

Thanksgiving Prayers and Blessings at the Table
Thanksgiving Prayers and Blessings at the Table

While any day is appropriate for thanksgiving prayers or blessings, they are especially valued on the Thanksgiving holiday.

It is the custom in the United States and in Canada to sit down to a formal meal with friends and family in honor of Thanksgiving Day. It is also the custom to begin the dinner with a thanksgiving prayer or blessing.

Here you will find the traditional favorites as well as some from other cultures to add to your collection. Each is presented on a professional graphic which you may print to give to each dinner guest. In this way, the guests at your dinner table may recite or sing the texts in unison.

The printouts also make wonderful mementos of the holiday dinner, for your family and for your guests. (You may use these graphics for your personal use and you may pin them on Pinterest, but you may not post them on another website.) Just 'right click' to save.

TABLE OF CONTENTS – Jump to Section

Psalms of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Prayers

Thanksgiving Blessings

Thanksgiving Prayers for Kids

Psalms of Thanksgiving

The word thanksgiving first entered the English language when the Bible was translated to English in 1517. The word was originally thankesgevynge and it was used in the Biblical Psalms of Thanksgiving. In English, the word always had a religious context. From the 16th century onward, the word is found in many religious poems of thanksgiving.

One of the most beloved Psalms using this new English-language word is Psalm 100.

Psalm 100
Psalm 100

Thanksgiving Prayers

The prayer below is based on a work written in the 1800s by Rabbi Alexander Diskin, which in turn was based on an even earlier source. Recently, free copies of this prayer in many languages are being distributed by the non-profit CKL Foundation. The pamphlet has been printed over 1,500,000 times.

This English translation, A Prayer of Thanks, was made by Breslev Rabbi Lazer Brody of Israel.

A Prayer of Thanks by Rabbi Alexander Diskin
A Prayer of Thanks by Rabbi Alexander Diskin

The Iroquois Native American Indian tribe had a tradition of offering daily prayers, which were called Thanksgivings. Several of these were translated into English by Harriet Maxwell Converse (1836 – 1903), a New York writer and advocate for Indian rights. The Indian federation known as the Six Nations of the United States and Canada made her a chief, an extraordinary honor to be given to a white woman.

In the prayer below, the Iroquois' religious teacher Ga-ne-o-di-o is referenced and God is referred to as the Great Spirit. Gratitude is expressed for the creation of human beings, animals, the sun and the moon, and even maple syrup ("timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them").

The Thanksgivings Iroquois Prayer
The Thanksgivings Iroquois Prayer

In 1945 a cache of papyrus codices was found buried in pottery in a graveyard in Nag Hammadi, a settlement on the Nile River in Egypt. They are believed to be the writings of a Coptic sect of early Christianity, but bear little resemblance to later Christian teachings.

Below is the prayer of thanksgiving which was found in the collection. The prayer was recited in unison before eating the communal meal.

The Thanksgiving Prayer from Nag Hammadi Papyrus
The Thanksgiving Prayer from Nag Hammadi Papyrus

Walter Rauschenbusch (1861 – 1918) was an America Baptist preacher who believed that religion involved social action.

This is one of his most famous prayers, A Thanksgiving Prayer.

A Thanksgiving Prayer by Walter Rauschenbusch
A Thanksgiving Prayer by Walter Rauschenbusch

Jeremiah Eames Rankin (1828 – 1904) was an American pastor and the president of Howard University. During his lifetime, he also wrote many hymns. Following is his Prayer of Thanksgiving.

Prayer of Thanksgiving by Jeremiah Eames Rankin
Prayer of Thanksgiving by Jeremiah Eames Rankin

This is a traditional prayer from the British Harvest Festival, which is held at the end of the autumn harvest throughout the U.K.

Prayer from the British Harvest Festival
Prayer from the British Harvest Festival

Reverend Samuel F. Pugh was born in 1904 and spent his life as a church pastor and editor of World Call magazine. He was also a prolific religious poet. His A Thanksgiving Prayer below is an excerpt from the New York Times bestseller, The Thanksgiving Ceremony, New Traditions for America's Feast by E. Bleier.

Reverend Pugh passed away in 2007 at the age of 103.

A Thanksgiving Prayer by Samuel F. Pugh
A Thanksgiving Prayer by Samuel F. Pugh

Pauline Esther Phillips (1918 – 2013) was known throughout the world by her pen name, Abigail van Buren, creator of the Dear Abby newspaper column. She began writing the column in 1956 and it was syndicated in more than 1,400 newspapers.

This is a favorite prayer that appeared in the column several years during the holiday season:

Prayer of Thanks by Abigail van Buren, the original Dear Abby
Prayer of Thanks by Abigail van Buren, the original Dear Abby

In the spirit of thankfulness, the prayer below was introduced into the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church in 1928. It is a prayer invoking God's blessing on the nation.

Thanksgiving Prayer for Our Country
Thanksgiving Prayer for Our Country

Known for his narrative lyrics, folk and country music singer Johnny Cash (1932 – 2003) captured the spirit of the American heartland with his poem On Thanksgiving, I Thank You. It is the song of a poor farmer who has nothing to feed his family for the holiday meal except for bread and beans.

To appreciate this emotional work, listen to Cash's presentation in the video below. The transcription follows underneath the video.

On Thanksgiving, I Thank You Lyrics by Johnny Cash
On Thanksgiving, I Thank You Lyrics by Johnny Cash
On Thanksgiving, I Thank You Lyrics by Johnny Cash – Part 2
On Thanksgiving, I Thank You Lyrics by Johnny Cash – Part 2
On Thanksgiving, I Thank You Lyrics by Johnny Cash – Part 3
On Thanksgiving, I Thank You Lyrics by Johnny Cash – Part 3

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy is a Baptist minister and president of the Interfaith Alliance. Below is his short Thanksgiving prayer.

Short Thanksgiving Prayer by  C. Welton Gaddy
Short Thanksgiving Prayer by C. Welton Gaddy
Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember
Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember

This is a book exploring the Christian traditions of the Thanksgiving holiday. Go read dozens of 5-star reviews and a review from Publishers Weekly – great hostess gift!

 

Thanksgiving Blessings

America has a rich political tradition of giving thanks to God and of invoking His blessings on the nation and its people. The first official proclamation was issued by the Continental Congress in 1777. Reading the Thanksgiving Proclamations from years gone by gives a picture of the religious heritage of America.

Two of these appear below: the first was issued by Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War in 1863 and the second was issued by John F. Kennedy, one hundred years later in 1963. Both of these American presidents were assassinated while in office.

Thanksgiving Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863
Thanksgiving Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863
A Blessing of Gratitude Thanksgiving Proclamation by John F. Kennedy 1963
A Blessing of Gratitude Thanksgiving Proclamation by John F. Kennedy 1963

Perhaps the most well-known short thanksgiving blessing is this simple grace said before meals:

Bless, O Lord, these gifts to our use

And us to Your loving service.

Short Grace Before Meals
Short Grace Before Meals

Many cultures have blessings giving thanks to God and some of these have been adopted for use during the American and Canadian Thanksgiving holidays. Several of these Thanksgiving blessings are presented below.

One of the favorite blessings is We Gather Together by Theodore Baker. This blessing was based on a Dutch hymn written in 1597 in thankfulness for a war victory. It is now the most familiar blessing said by American families at the holiday dinner table and is also used as a hymn in religious services for the holiday.

You may print the graphic of this blessing so everyone at your holiday celebration can follow the text or sing the hymn.

We Gather Together by Theodore Baker
We Gather Together by Theodore Baker

This is a touching video of children singing this famous of all Thanksgiving blessings.

This is a traditional Jewish blessing from the 2nd century CE. Known as the Nishmat Kol Chai (The Soul of Every Living Thing), a long or short version is said in synagogues and in family homes on the Sabbath and on many holidays, including Sukkot which is celebrated at the time of the autumn harvest in the land of Israel.

The Nishmat Kol Chai Blessing (The Soul of Every Living Thing)
The Nishmat Kol Chai Blessing (The Soul of Every Living Thing)

In the 1500s, the Aztec population of central Mexico was heavily influenced by the coming of Christian missionaries from Spain. Following is one of the blessings adopted by the Aztecs for use in their religious liturgies.

Aztec Blessing of Gratitude
Aztec Blessing of Gratitude

In England, churches began celebrating the Harvest Festival in the 1800s with special prayers and blessings in their services called Harvest Home. Parishioners bring the fruits, vegetables and grains from the autumn harvest into their churches for the Sunday celebration and these are distributed to those in need.

The traditional blessing below is one of the most popular in the U.K.

Harvest Festival Blessing
Harvest Festival Blessing

The blessing below is from the Baptist tradition for Harvest Home in the U.K. and was first used in 1843. It is usually referred to as the Prayer of Approach.

Prayer of Approach Harvest Home Blessing
Prayer of Approach Harvest Home Blessing

American singer Johnny Cash wrote A Thanksgiving Prayer, to honor God's blessing him with his wife, June Carter Cash. The two made a guest appearance together on an American television series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, in the 1990s. In the clip from the show below, Cash sings this song to his wife with this refrain:

"This year when I count my blessings,

I'm thanking the Lord He made You."

June Carter Cash died in 2003, four months before her husband. Those close to Johnny said that he died of a broken heart after losing his wife of 35 years.

The lyrics are transcribed below the video.

A Thanksgiving Prayer Lyrics by Johnny Cash and Josef Anderson
A Thanksgiving Prayer Lyrics by Johnny Cash and Josef Anderson
Thanksgiving Poems
Thanksgiving Poems

You can find more Thanksgiving Prayers and Psalms in this collection, all on printable graphics for the holiday:

Thanksgiving Poems

Thanksgiving Prayers for Kids

Kids love learning Thanksgiving prayers for the holiday and love to offer their own at the festive meal. Prayers that rhyme are especially easy for them to learn and to remember.

Here are several which are appropriate for children under the age of ten.

A Child's Prayer of Thanks
A Child's Prayer of Thanks
My Thanksgiving Prayer
My Thanksgiving Prayer

This beautifully illustrated, oversized board book, rates five-star reviews on Amazon. Combine with another item on your shopping list and shipping is free!

 

This is a new prayer just for kids which is full of things all children can be thankful for, any day of the year. Feel free to add your own verses, too!

Thanksgiving Prayer for Kids
Thanksgiving Prayer for Kids
The Berenstain Bears Thanksgiving Blessings (Berenstain Bears/Living Lights)
The Berenstain Bears Thanksgiving Blessings (Berenstain Bears/Living Lights)

Kids love this all-time favorite, full of Thanksgiving blessings, colorful drawings and lovable bears.

 

Even the youngest kid at the table can learn this short prayer to say a blessing before a meal.

A Short Thanksgiving Prayer for Kids
A Short Thanksgiving Prayer for Kids

If you would like to add a prayer or blessing to this collection, just write it in the section below.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving Pictures and Images
Thanksgiving Pictures and Images

Find colorful graphics for the holidays in this exclusive collection:

Thanksgiving Pictures and Images

Share Don't Copy.

The Thanksgiving pictures on this page may be used for personal use only. If you would like to request permission for use on websites or for other commercial use, contact the author.

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    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago

      Writer Fox: Please come onto the forums and let everybody know you are OK or at least respond to this comment so that I will know it. Many here have been worried about you!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Another great compilation. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Writer Fox!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      A Blessed Thanksgiving to you too. People were getting worried about you.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Beautiful work here writer Fox, I love the Nag Hammedi one, I have read most of the gospels found at that time and place, fascinating stuff, and all your others are wonderful! great to see you back, check the forums, you have been missed! lol!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Beautiful. Thank you, Writer Fox, for sharing these prayers which remind all who read them that every day there is a reason to give thanks.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Writer Fox What a wonderful collection of prayers and blessings just in time for the holiday. Explanations add interest to the collection. I love the Johnny Cash selection, and remember how much he cared for his wife. Some people I knew died of broken hearts. That is a real loving relationship but a little sad. Sharing Blessings. Audrey.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      There are really no adjectives I can think of to express the beauty of this Hub and those prayers you included that would do justice!

      I am listening to Johnny Cash and just loving every word. Yes, the world is mine, and I'm doing fine!

      Voted UP, etc. and will share all around. My FB friends will love this Hub.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you for these wonderful ways to say thank you for all that we have. And we should share them as you suggest.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 2 years ago from Florida

      Writer Fox,

      I am thankful for you and your beautiful words that touched my heart in this astounding hub you wrote with love to share with us.

      I am so pleased for my sense of sight this morning because instead of worrying about what I am going to prepare for Thanksgiving---I am making my list of others I will share with again this year.

      Johnny Cash’s video and all the prayers of thanks open one’s heart to think of others a little more and be more thankful.

      I am so happy you are back with us and all is well.

      Bobbi Purvis

      I voted-up +++ and shared with Twitter.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 2 years ago from United States

      This is so well presented and one of the best ever done. Thank you for sharing this wonderful holiday. whonu

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

      Awesome hub! I have not read a lot of blessings presented in an article. Thank you very much. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Awesome collection of Thanksgiving Prayers to an Awesome God.

      Thank you, Writer Fox, for another excellent hub. - God Bless!

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      I love, love, love this hub! Printed out to share with my own children and ccd kids and to just read in further detail. Getting me in the holiday mode... Thanks for a hub that has a lot of heart.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Awww, this will be popular with so many, Writer Fox. You know I am pinning this. Gotta support you, my awesome friend. What a terrific spiritual hub in time for the holiday. When my very large family gathers at Thanksgiving we are of all such differing philosophies, religions and denominations that selecting an appropriate prayer is usually an interesting predicament. This will help.

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 2 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Well researched and extensively written. Voted Beautiful.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      beautiful prayers, I must print it out and read it loud at dinner time

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Thank you so much TimeTraveler, Susan, Ologsinquito, Nell, Phyllis, Audrey, Mary, Eric, Bobbi, Whonunuwho, Thelma, Susie Colorfulone, Amie, Flourish, Marie and Peach.

      I'm really behind in responding to comments but I'm so grateful that you each took the time to leave a message here. May you all have things to be thankful for.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 2 years ago from North America

      I revisit this Hub occasionally and I still find it beautiful and enjoy the prayers. Thanks again for it.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Thank you, Patty. These prayers aren't just for the holiday because every day is a day to give thanks. I appreciate your comment.

    • PinoyMom profile image

      Shiela Gerona 2 years ago from Philippines

      I admire Americans on how they celebrate the Thanksgiving Day. Your hub is filled with awesome information about Thanksgiving.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Thank you PinoyMom. This is the most-loved, all-American holiday.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 21 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Great content especially when some young people today don't even know the true meaning of Thanksgiving and who we are thanking.

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