Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
“Community thanksgiving is the voice of the church,” says former Zondervan editor-in-chief Al Bryant. “You are an individual, but you are also a member of society.” In a week where giving thanks is top of mind we cannot miss the opportunity to lead our communities in collective thanksgiving.
Divisions dominate too often; Bryant’s prayers over groups of people—uniting them through gratitude—are a breath of fresh air:
We thank God for life and health. These we share together. When plague strikes a city, terror reigns. Thank God for conscious well-being and supply of daily needs.We are thankful for the benefits of civilization, for ordered government, for scientific improvements, for education, good streets, institutions of benevolence, industry, and art. America has done much to improve the lot of the common men and women like ourselves. We must share it with the world.We are thankful for a Christian environment where temperance and goodwill are encouraged, and fellowship with kindly folk is possible for us all. What would we be without the church, the open Bible, and the Gospel of Christ? These are values beyond man’s power to estimate.We are thankful for faith in the midst of tragedy. There is a God who understands and cares. Dark and mysterious is our life, but His way is good and true. Our trust is in our salvation.We are grateful for the vision of better things to be, for the promise of Christ’s kingdom and universal brotherhood in Him. It is our highway from despair, cynicism, and degeneracy.We thank God for the hope eternal. This life is but the seed of a life that will blossom into unimaginable glory according to the promise of God.
It seems natural to remember to pray when we suffer. How quickly comfort, privilege, and luxury sap our intimacy with God. James reminds his readers that prayer and praise are essential not only to personal growth, but to the life of our community.
May we use this week to engage our communities—church, work, and home—in thanksgiving for what God is doing in and through us.