Issue 282 -- May 19, 2016
Thanksgiving Prayer Service
When the senior pastor of the Korean United Methodist Church of South Florida saw the lives of today’s Christians becoming complacent and ungrateful, he started the 40 days of Thanksgiving Prayer Service before Thanksgiving Sunday. This prayer service encourages the members of the congregation to have hearts full of meaningful and genuine thanksgiving, not just for a day, but for life. It reminds them what it means to be thankful and helps them to experience the presence of God and become one in Jesus Christ with thanksgiving.
The Thanksgiving Prayer Service begins with each member of the congregation lighting a candle to represent the presence of God. Then the praise team leads a time of passionate praise followed by a time of corporate prayer. There is also individual prayer time with different prayer topics for each day. When the message is delivered, the congregation enters into the Word and reads the Bible passage in unison.
After the message and closing prayer, the congregation is invited to a prayer of anointing oil as a symbol of faith in God and of God’s ability to cleanse and make things holy. The pastor draws a cross in the middle of each person’s forehead with the oil to encourage everyone to live each day as a holy and living sacrifice. At the end of the service, each participant receives a daily Bible verse card to help him or her reflect and meditate on the Scripture for that day. This prayer service unites the congregation with a common vision and passion and invites the congregation to come and experience the power of corporate prayer as they prepare themselves for Thanksgiving Sunday.
This prayer service in many ways satisfies people’s spiritual longing. The majority of Christians admit that prayer is important, but they struggle to connect prayer to their everyday lives. The Korean UMC of South Florida challenges and encourages this congregation through this prayer service with word and commitment to walk in faith during the 40 days of their spiritual journey leading up to Thanksgiving Sunday. Forty days of prayer service seems really long and quite different from what the typical church does for Thanksgiving. However, this service has been a blessing for this congregation, as members have joined in a churchwide spiritual exercise that brings people closer to one another as they give meaningful and genuine thanksgiving to God.
Devotional Life in the Wesleyan Tradition (Korean Translation)
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
How does your congregation develop a prayerful life and give thanks to God each and every day?
How is your congregation offered a chance to express genuine thanksgiving for life?
What drives your church? How can you unite the church with a common vision and passion for God?
Produced by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to communicate effective principles and practices demonstrated by congregations that are actively making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These congregations are marked by:
- Clarity around the mission and vision of the congregation.
- Practice of spiritual disciplines, both corporately and individually.
- Nurture in growth in discipleship through mutual support and accountability.
- Cultivation of intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable—the poor, children, the imprisoned, the powerless.
- Consistent concern for inviting people into relationship with Jesus Christ, combined with wise practices for initiating them into the body of Christ.
- Connectional relationships that facilitate participation in God’s mission of global transformation.
- Shared clergy and lay leadership.
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