Thanksgiving Day dates back to November 1621, when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians came together in celebration of the autumn harvest. Today, we continue to honor the day by gathering with family, friends and neighbors to enjoy a nice meal.
While menu choices will vary from one house to the next, many people — whether you're celebrating solo, as a couple or with an intimate group — start off with a short Thanksgiving prayer or blessing. Religious or spiritual affiliation aside, taking a few moments to give thanks to the bounty on the table and the loved ones seated around it adds to the magnitude of gratitude associated with this special day in November.
Below, we’ve compiled a mix of simple Thanksgiving prayers, poems, Bible verses and other blessings that are sure to evoke a sense of gratitude for the good food and even better company you're about to enjoy. Read them aloud before you dig into your turkey dinner, write them in a card for anyone celebrating at a distance or use them as an Instagram caption — it's your call.
- "Lord God, our hearts are crowded with gratitude as we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving. We have come to this our feasting table with great joy and eagerness, for we are truly grateful to you, our God, for all that we have been given." — excerpt from “Prayers for the Domestic Church, A Handbook for Worship by Edward Hays"
- "Thanksgiving / For each new morning with its light / For rest and shelter of the night / For health and food / For love and friends / For everything thy goodness sends." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
- "God, thank you for all that you’ve given us. Bless the cook and bless all those who go without. Amen." — Rev. Jake Martin, SJ
- "Blessed are you, O Lord God, King of the Universe, for you give us food to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." — excerpt from the "Book of Common Prayer"
- "Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life and for the mystery of love. We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side." — excerpt from the "Book of Common Prayer"
- "We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him. / We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth./ We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on." — Harriet Maxwell Converse, “The Thanksgivings," translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer
- "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving." — Psalm 69:30
- "Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." — Psalm 100:1-5
- "The sun hath shed its kindly light/ Our harvesting is gladly o’er / Our fields have felt no killing blight / Our bins are filled with goodly store. / From pestilence, fire, flood and sword / We have been spared by thy decree / And now with humble hearts, O Lord / We come to pay our thanks to thee." — Paul Laurence Dunbar, "A Thanksgiving Poem”
- "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever." — Psalm 136
- "Let us be thankful — not only because / Since last our universal thanks were told / We have grown greater in the world’s applause, / And fortune’s newer smiles surpass the old.” — James Whitcomb Riley, "Thanksgiving"
- "Thanks for a beautiful day: On a beautiful day, we may thank God and praise him for his many gifts. Father of Jesus, We praise you and give you glory For the wonderful things you do for us; For life and health, for friends and family, for this splendid day." — excerpt from "From a Prayer of Praise and Thanks"
- "Father of us all, this meal is a sign of Your love for us. Bless us and bless our food, and help us to give you glory each day. Through Jesus Christ our Lord." — Catholic prayer
- "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." — 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- "O, heavenly Father: We thank thee for food and remember the hungry. We thank thee for health and remember the sick. We thank thee for friends and remember the friendless. We thank thee for freedom and remember the enslaved. May these remembrances stir us to service, that thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen." — Abigail van Buren
- " We thank you, Father, for the gift of Jesus your Son who came to our Earth and lived in a simple home. We have a greater appreciation of the value and dignity of the human family because he loved and was loved within its shelter. Bless us this day; may we grow in love for each other in our family and so give thanks to you who are the maker of all human families and our abiding peace." — excerpt from "The Catholic Prayer Book," compiled by Monsignor Michael Buckley
- "O God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry; When I have work, help me to remember the jobless; When I have a home, help me to remember those who have no home at all; When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer; And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency; bestir my compassion, and be concerned enough to help; By word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted. Amen." — Samuel F. Pugh, "A Thanksgiving Day Prayer"
- "We thank you, God our Father, for the shelter and comfort of our homes; for the love and companionship of our family and friends; for our health, and our many gifts and abilities; and for all the blessings which we take for granted. Hear our prayer for all who are less fortunate than we are and bless those who work to help them. For Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen." — "Rev. Adrian Porter, SJ, "A Prayer of Thanksgiving"
- "From the freshly baked breads / To delicious meats and treats / This meal is the work / Of many hands / For all of us to share / From the seeds in the field / And animals in the barn / To this table of family and friends / Hard work has provided us / A bounty of tender, loving care." — Van Curren
- "Oh God, on Thanksgiving Day we bow our hearts to You and pray. We thank you for the many gifts and graces you have provided for us. We pray for those who do not recognize or appreciate all that you have provided. We pray for those who have less than we do. We pray for continued health and happiness in our lives. We pray for our family and friends, especially those who cannot be with us or are far from home. We thank you for the food that we are about to receive. Amen." — except from "A Thanksgiving Prayer" from Marquette University
- "For the laughter of the children / For my own life breath / For the abundance of food on this table / For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast, / For the roof over our heads /The clothes on our backs / For our health / And our wealth of blessings / For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends / For the freedom to pray these words / Without fear / In any language / In any faith / In this great country / Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants. / Thank You, God, for giving us all these. Amen." — Rabbi Naomi Levy, "A Prayer for the Thanksgiving Feast"
- "All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." — 2 Corinthians 4:15
- "Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be / And bless these gifts / Bestowed by Thee. / And bless our loved ones everywhere / And keep them in Your loving care." — "Moravian Table Blessing"
- "O Thou whose bounty fills my cup / With every blessing meet! / I give Thee thanks for every drop / The bitter and the sweet. / I praise Thee for the desert road / And for the riverside / For all Thy goodness hath bestowed / And all Thy grace denied. / I thank Thee for both smile and frown / And for the gain and loss / I praise Thee for the future crown / And for the present cross. / I thank Thee for both wings of love / Which stirred my worldly nest / And for the stormy clouds which drove / Me, trembling, to Thy breast. / I bless Thee for the glad increase / And for the waning joy / And for this strange, this settled peace / Which nothing can destroy." — Jane Crewsden, "I Thank Thee"
- "Be present at our table, Lord; be here and everywhere adored. Bless these thy gifts and grant that we may feast in fellowship with thee. Amen." — "Traditional Table Prayer"