The family sits down, lights the candles, admires the turkey, and begins the generations-old family liturgy: I’m thankful for family. I’m thankful for friends. For a house and a job. For this delicious food. But what if, in addition to naming our blessings, we also went around the table and asked God for the things we still want? I long for a husband. I need wisdom. Reconciliation with my neighbor. Healing from this cancer.

Would the act of asking contradict the spirit of Thanksgiving?

Frequently, I notice Christians trying to separate thanks from asking. We fill blogs and notebooks with lists of nothing but thanksgivings, numbered in the thousands. We write articles urging readers to focus on thanks and to save their requests for another day. We urge ourselves to appreciate what we have been given, and especially on Thanksgiving, it feels ungrateful to ask for more.

When we pray, we often compartmentalize our prayers in some variation of the ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) formula, and give our prayer group instructions like these: Okay, everyone, we are going to thank God now. Please don’t pray any requests during this time. First praises, then prayer requests.

I think we set up this artificial separation because of the ingratitude we see within and around us. CT's Mark Galli correctly describes the ambient ungratefulness of our culture this way: “Anyone with half an ounce of self-awareness recognizes how much we whine about what is missing in our lives... and how often we are just indifferent to the many divine gifts showered upon us hour by hour.” We are thankless people living in a greedy world, and we often respond by promoting thanksgiving without ...

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