This post last updated on October 9th, 2023
Being thankful is a big focus at least once a year. Thanksgiving is more than just perfectly (or overcooked) turkeys and cranberry sauce. There’s pumpkin pie, stuffing, and football too. Ok, I admit, there’s more to the holiday than that!
George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
In the United States, long before Abraham Lincoln made the third Thursday in November a holiday, our first president made Thanksgiving official with his proclamation.
This was to be a non-sectarian day of prayer, devotions, and thanksgiving among the people.
Here is what George Washington had to say in his opening and closing statements in his proclamation on October 3, 1789.
Look at some of the language President Washington used:
- “it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
- “both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”
- “that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions.”
If only we had leaders who spoke with half of that conviction today!
By the way, you can read his entire proclamation and download document images, transcripts, and ready to use classroom resources (activities, discussion prompts, lesson plans).
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
12 Bible Verses on Being Thankful
Want these verses in a printable infographic?
Here you go!
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1. “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 100:4-5
2. “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:17
3. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
4. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
5. “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” Psalm 95:2
6. “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Psalm 7:17
7. “For long ago in the days of David and Asaph there were directors of the singers, and there were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.” Nehemiah 12:46
8. “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:23
9. “…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Ephesians 5:20
10. “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:12
11. “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” 1 Chronicles 16:34
12. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
Bonus! 5 Quotes From Christian Leaders on Being Thankful
1. “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton
2. “Careful for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything.” – D.L. Moody
3. “From David learn to give thanks for everything. Every furrow in the Book of Psalms is sown with the seeds of thanksgiving.” – Jeremy Taylor
4. “A sensible thanksgiving for mercies received is a mighty prayer in the Spirit of God. It prevails with Him unspeakably.” – John Bunyan
5. “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is “good,” because is it good, if “bad” because it works in us patience, humility, and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” – C. S. Lewis