In our recently-released order for praying the Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings you will find Thursday evening is a time particularly dedicated to giving thanks. Some of the thanksgiving prayers in the back of our Prayer Book are rather specific, and may not always resonate with the individual’s situation or experience. But this one might be an interesting take right now:
- FOR DELIVERANCE FROM PERIL
Almighty God, our strong tower of defense in time of trouble: We offer you praise and heartfelt thanks for our deliverance from the dangers which lately surrounded us [and for your gracious gift of peace]. We confess that your goodness alone has preserved us; and we ask you still to continue your mercies toward us, that we may always know and acknowledge you as our Savior and mighty Deliverer; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
With hints of Psalm 46, this prayer celebrates in thanksgiving a deliverance that God has wrought among his people. The bracketed phrase about his gracious gift of peace enables one to put this prayer into a post-war context, though it could easily serve many situations in a metaphorical sense too.
Some states and countries are beginning to “open up for business” now or in the near future. Let’s not get into the debates of “too soon” or “too late”; our concern here is how we pray. If you have come through this time healthy, housed, and fed, then you have much to give thanks for! God’s goodness has preserved you from the dangers that lately surrounded you. We are taught in holy scripture to give thanks even in the midst of our sufferings, though that is not one of the themes of this particular prayer.
But there is an important line in this prayer which we might not always remember to think or pray on our own: “we ask you still to continue your mercies toward us…” It’s very easy to come out of peril with victorious mentality: I’ve overcome the challenge, we got through this, the fight is over, the battle won. In reality, most perilous situations (be they wars, pandemics, family feuds, or whatnot) have after-effects and the threat of resurgence. There is great concern that the second wave of COVID-19 will be worse than the first if it isn’t handled rightly at the onset. So it is important that we don’t let down our guard and cease from prayer just because a problem looks like it’s going away. This prayer directs us to keep up the petitions even in the midst of thanksgiving and deliverance.
Regardless of context, that’s an important lesson to take to heart, if one would become a mature Christian in prayer.