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How to Write a Short, Personal Psalm of Thanksgiving

For MsDora—teacher, counselor, mother, and grandmother—holidays and family make the perfect blend of good times and pleasant memories.

These tips and tricks will help you write the best psalm possible.

These tips and tricks will help you write the best psalm possible.

“Thank God” is such an inherent part of our thinking that even atheists use the expression (and the rest of us sometimes say it casually like a kind of slang).

However, when we become seriously aware of our blessings and their source, we feel the need to enter into a meaningful dialogue with God. When we make the effort, (for example, at the traditional Thanksgiving celebration) sharing a personal Psalm of Thanksgiving is just one impressive way to make the occasion special. Be sure to include the following:

  1. Recognize God's goodness.
  2. Express present gratitude.
  3. Surrender to the spirit of praise.
  4. List your blessings.
  5. Affirm God's goodness.
Contents in the psalm of thanksgiving.

Contents in the psalm of thanksgiving.

In the First Thanksgiving (1621), the pilgrims gave thanks to God for guiding them safely to the New World. William Bradford writes of their celebration in Of Plymouth Plantation:

“Thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways,
and to bless their outgoings and incomings,
for which let His holy name have the praise forever,
to all posterity.”

Bradford illustrated parallelism, a distinctive regular feature in the Hebrew psalm.

What Is Parallelism?

Simply put, parallelism is one thought presented in two similar expressions. That is:

  • “All their ways” in Bradford's first phrase parallels “ their outgoings and incomings” in his second phrase.
  • “Forever” in his third phrase parallels “posterity” in his fourth.

After the translations into modern languages, parallelism emerged as the most outstanding characteristic of the Hebrew psalm. Its purpose is emphasis, either by repeating the idea, adding to the idea or opposing the idea. So rhyme and rhythm, though artistic, are not as important in the psalm as the content. Still, bear in mind that a sing-song rhythm may be helpful for people who like to sing psalms.

1. Recognize God's Goodness

Begin your psalm with an exciting recognition that God is good beyond your expectations.

“Several of the Hebrew and Greek words translated “thanksgiving” in our English Bible come from the root words for grace,” states Avery Willis, Jr. Our gratitude is a reaction to God’s grace, a gift for which we cannot qualify, or will ever deserve.

Psalm 100 with just five verses, is perhaps the most popular thanksgiving psalm and we can use it (New Living Translation) as a guide. Notice the exclamatory start and the repetition of ideas:

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Read More From Holidappy

"Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!" (Verse 1-3a)

“Shout with joy,” repeats in “Worship...with gladness” etc; and the psalmist is ecstatic.

Thanksgiving Placard at Cracker Barrel in Portland, ME

Thanksgiving Placard at Cracker Barrel in Portland, ME

2. Express Present Gratitude

Accept your present situation as a stage in God’s best for you. Don’t reserve your gratitude for the day when you get called back to work, or when you receive the doctor’s results. Express all the gratitude you have at that moment. Be grateful for the life the way it is. Accept it as a matter of fact. The psalmist did.

"He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture." (Verse 3b)

Acceptance reveals your trust, like sheep being guided by the shepherd, or like dry soil receiving moisture from the rain. Metaphors add depth to expression.

3. Surrender to the Spirit of Praise

"Enter his courts with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise." Verse 4a)

Some people define worship as our response to who God is, and praise as our response to His deeds. In complete surrender, worship (or thanksgiving) and praise blend into one powerful force which controls our expressions. In public worship, they inspire our responses: our shouts and our movements.

In your personal exercise of writing your psalm, surrender your mind to the attitude of praise. Ignore sentiments of regrets, discontent, and anything else negative, except to give thanks for the good that came out of the bad. Think only praise. Express only praise.

4. List Your Blessings

In this psalm, the psalmist is not very specific about his reasons for praise:

"Give thanks to him and praise his name." (Verse 4b)

However, even in a short psalm, you can list the blessings that stand out in your memory. Be specific which will help you recall the joy of these incidents when you share the psalm or read it again in later years. List whatever strikes you as God's intervention in your situation. Nothing is too small to mention.

  • Safe travel
  • Answered prayer
  • Encouragement from friends
  • Sale price on an item you couldn't afford otherwise

Listen to the details of the children's prayer. They list everything they remember, as they were taught to pray. Why then, do adults neglect to mention the “little” blessings that they expect to hear the children mention?

Thank God for everything, every situation, every outcome. Remember the time you left the refrigerator open for twelve hours? Give thanks that you hadn’t left the stove on instead.

5. Affirm God's Goodness

Whenever you count your blessings, you are inspired to be grateful. The more grateful you are, the more blessings come to your mind. Your head reels with joy until you eventually conclude like the psalmist,

"For the Lord is good."

The psalmist repeats the idea and adds an everlasting time frame.

"His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation." (Verse 5)

Visualizing God's grace, goodness, love and faithfulness, there is no end in sight. The psalmist ends with the same attitude that you will have after spending the time to compose a psalm: There will always be reason to thank God.

This year, make Thanksgiving more special than ever, by sharing a personal psalm. Who knows? Someone might put it to music, if you don't. There are many benefits to expressing your personal thanks!

My Thanksgiving Psalm

Give thanks to the Awesome, Bountiful God!
Who spreads love and kindness all over the universe;
Give Thanks to my personal God
Whose favor toward me extends beyond what I imagine.
Without You I’d be a ship without a harbor;
Because of You, I enjoy safety and shelter in port.
I worship and praise You for showers of blessings:
My physical healing, my peace of mind, the food on my table,
My eighty-year old mother who still keeps me company,
My children, all of whom worship You.
My thanks can never be enough, for You my Omnipotent,
Gracious, Merciful God keeps blessing me;
And I will express my gratitude all the days of my life.

© 2011 Dora Weithers


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 22, 2017:

Patricia, thank you for joining in a psalm of praise. thanks also for the angels. Happy thanksgiving to you and yours!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 22, 2017:

And may I only add..."Amen"....this could be a song...Ms. Dora.... we are indeed so blessed....and His bounties are overflowing and everlasting.

Angels to you and yours and a happy Thanksgiving ps

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 21, 2017:

Jill, this is absolutely beautiful! Your list engages all the senses and then your decision to appreciate without worrying is the perfect climax. Thanks for sharing, Happy Thanksgiving!

Jill Spencer from United States on November 21, 2017:

Hi MsDora, I saw this yesterday and thought that while I (finally!) have a few days off I'd start at least one day taking your advice:


Here I am, God, still searching listening reaching

hoping for that Damascus moment when the dark mirror clears

In the meantime

Thanks for periwinkle snails mulberry leaves frosty mornings hot coffee seashells peppermint autumn leaves dried lavender dappled light on the forest floor and

wet dog noses nudging me to appreciate your world and stop worrying

about the meaning of it all.

Thanks, Dora.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 11, 2017:

Tamara, I come back to it at least once a year; but we really should write thanksgiving psalms more often.

BBYCGN from Uninhabited Regions on November 11, 2017:

Oh, I just noticed that I commented twice (well, now, on your inspiring article. There really is only one of me (last time I checked:-) It’s an article worthy of coming back to!

BBYCGN from Uninhabited Regions on November 11, 2017:


This beautiful post of yours reminds me that I’d like to write my own prayer of Thanksgiving to say especially on Thanksgiving Day.

I also keep wanting to say CONGRATULATIONS on your award! You deserve it!

Love & Hugs,


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 11, 2017:

Susan, thanks for your kind comment, and a Happy thanksgiving to you also.

Susan Ream from Michigan on November 11, 2017:

Dear Dora, such beauty, and gratitude flows through your Thanksgiving Psalm. Your content elements give great direction beginning with our focus on the Father, just like Jesus taught us in The Lord's Prayer.

Your heart is set on him and you bless me with your words! Love your new profile picture .. your warmth and joy comes through that lovely smile of yours. Happy Thanksgiving dear Dora!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 06, 2017:

Tamara, thank you for your encouragement. Makes me happy when a reader is positively affected by a post. Very happy when it inspires thanks.

BBYCGN from Uninhabited Regions on November 05, 2017:

In this world, we need reason to be hopeful, smile, have someone who understands all of our burdens, trust that our loved ones will be protected, and are cared for, and having something to look forward to in passionate anticipation.

Your post, here, is complete in its ability to share all these things with us, through Jesus Christ. And for this, I thank you! And, above all, I thank our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ.

P.S.- Yes, prayer is Everything!



Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 23, 2016:

Irvin, thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate you! Happy thanksgiving to you and yours!

Irvin Watson on November 23, 2016:

Fantastic piece Ms Dora. And what a beautiful psalm. It's so great to always try to write or capture things we are thankful for the Lord doing when it happens so that we may never forget, that we will always recount the many times He has blessed us and that our very breathe is worthy of high praise. Happy Thanksgiving

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 08, 2016:

Thanks, Marlene. Happy Thanksgiving and I know that your psalm will inspire thanks in your entire family gathering.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on November 06, 2016:

MsDora, this is by far the most helpful lesson on prayer that I have ever read. I learned a lot with your explanation, so much so that I shall try to compose a Thanksgiving prayer for our family's celebration this year. Thank you for this valuable insight into the Psalm of Thanksgiving.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 17, 2015:

Truth, you speak the truth, indeed. This, written four years ago is a reminder for me too. Happy Thanksgiving!

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on November 17, 2015:

Thanks for the reminders this Thanksgiving. There is so much sadness and trouble in this World, so we have to remind ourselves to be thankful for what we do have. Thanks for the encouragement.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 17, 2015:

Thanks Audrey. It was written for the holiday, but I hope useful all year round. Happy Thanksgiving!

Audrey Howitt from California on November 17, 2015:

Loved this--especially in light of the upcoming holiday

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 13, 2015:

On you, too Sujaya. Thank you and a Happy Thanksgiving to your and yours!

sujaya venkatesh on November 13, 2015:

God's Grace ample on you

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 11, 2015:

Lareene, thank you for your encouragement. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Lareene from Atlanta, GA on November 10, 2015:

You are such a good writer and very inspirational. I enjoy reading your hubs. You are a light along the way. Carry on!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 06, 2015:

Good Morning, Patricia. As the song says, "Every praise is to our God!" God's blessings on you, too.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 06, 2015:

Good morning MsDora

It really is all about giving him the thanks and praise, isn't it? In whatever humble we can do so no doubt our Lord welcomes it....

Hoping you and your family have a lovely Thanksgiving ....

Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 20, 2014:

Wow, Lori. You have a rich pedigree. Thanks for your very kind comments. May God be praised that we can learn from each other.

Lori Colbo from United States on October 19, 2014:

Dora, you have wrapped yourself around my heart. Everything I read of yours is a blessing because your precious spirit, your sweetness and attitude of gratitude. Your psalm was beautiful. Thank you for this gift.

As an aside, William Bradford is an ancestor of mine. My maternal grandmother's middle name was Bradford in honor of him.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 16, 2014:

JTader, we can include as many element as we wish. It's our life and our thanksgiving. Glad you appreciate the article. I appreciate your reading and commenting.

jtrader on October 16, 2014:

So many elements of a personal psalm, so many things to think about as we give thanks. Good guide Ms Dora.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 07, 2014:

RTalloni, thank you for sharing these meaningful thoughts and resources. I appreciate your sharing your reflections on the God-man relationship. Your comment is very helpful.

RTalloni on October 07, 2014:

The theme of praise before prayer runs through the entire Word of God, bringing us to His Son through the Old Testament into the New Testament, and I have found it to be true that writing about what we have to be thankful for in Him helps us continue to embrace that theme.

When difficult seasons come into our lives, it is especially important to review what He tells us and consider all that we have to be thankful for if we agree with Him about His Son. A primary example for us is from the book of Job, with Job 13:15 being especially thought provoking.

By listening to a series on Job from the author of Beyond Suffering: Discovering the Message of Job --

-- I'm getting the chance to give more consideration to the unique relationship God has with man. Continuing to take in the difference between temporary harm that grows, strengthens and heals us, and lasting harm that destroys us is to take huge steps upward. Being able to praise Him for His perfect knowledge of the difference when we face difficult circumstances is huge.

Behind A Frowning Providence (J.J. Murray) --

-- is a small little book that is another excellent resource we can prayerfully use to help us trust and praise God when suffering is present in our lives, even the kind of suffering that is impossible to comprehend, as with Job.

Thanks for the opportunity to stop and consider this topic at this time. In the face of your burden for your mother it is good to read of your prepared praise.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 07, 2014:

Jackie, thanks for your encouragement, and for being my friend. God bless you!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on October 06, 2014:

You always show God's love for us and it is always such a pleasure to read you here...and to befriend you here too!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 18, 2013:

Sam, what a nice thing to say! You encourage me. Thank you and have a great thanksgiving!

SAM ELDER from Home on November 18, 2013: