How To Write A Short, Personal Psalm of Thanksgiving

“Thank God” is such an inherent part of our thinking that even the atheists express it; 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.

Thanksgiving Placard at Cracker Barrel in Portland, ME -- Photo by Billy Hathorn
Thanksgiving Placard at Cracker Barrel in Portland, ME -- Photo by Billy Hathorn | Source

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.”

He made use of parallelism, a 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; and “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.

If you are willing, you will not find it difficult to write a psalm, which is a prayer or a statement of faith in the form of poetry. There are five content elements which add to the significance of the thanksgiving psalm.

Personal Thanksgiving Psalms make the occasion special.

(1) Recognize God’s Generosity

“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. So begin your psalm with an exciting recognition that God is good beyond your expectations.

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:

"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.

Give thanks no matter what.  "Praise the Lord." --  Photo by Jonathan Lwowski
Give thanks no matter what. "Praise the Lord." -- Photo by Jonathan Lwowski | Source

(2) Be Thankful For Life As Is

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 waiting for guidance from the shepherd, or like dry soil waiting for moisture from the rain. Metaphors add depth to expression.

(3) Surrender in Worship

Some people define worship as our response to who God is, and praise as our response to what He has done. When the heart is overflowing with thanksgiving, there may not be an obvious distinction. Your intention is to express personal thanks and with every blessing you list, you are aware that He deserves your worship.

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

Worship includes surrender. In public worship, you surrender an offering; in your personal devotion, you surrender your entire being—body, soul and mind, with a promise to maintain a spirit of prayer and worship in your everyday life.

(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
  • Price drop on gas
  • Sale price on an item you couldn't afford otherwise.

Listen to the details of the children's prayer. They list everything like their parents taught them to. Why then, do adults neglect to mention the “little” blessings that they taught the children to give thanks for?

Thank God for everything, every situation, every outcome. If something negative comes to mind, find one good thing in the bad situation to be thankful for. Remember the time you left the refrigerator open for twelve hours? Give thanks that you hadn’t left the stove on instead.

(5) Finalize With Affirmation of 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 spins until eventually you 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)

Looking at 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.

No matter what, express your personal thanks!

My Psalm of Thanksgiving

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 Isaac Weithers

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Comments 45 comments

ambassadornchains profile image

ambassadornchains 5 years ago

Thank you so much for writing this hub! I absolutely love it!! =) I love love love the "Surrender in Worship" section...Not something many people think about when they think of Thanksgiving or "thanks-giving!!" You have an amazing heart for God! Praise the Lord! =)

MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you so much, ambassador, for your kind comment. It takes someone who has an amazing heart for God to recognize someone else who does. God bless you!

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

This was wonderful! In college I had to take an Old Testament course and we had to write a psalm almost as you described. I may look through my old papers and see if I still have it.

I love the psalm you highlighted for recognizing God's generosity (Psalm 100); it put that wonderfully uplifting song, "Shout to the Lord" in my head. I was very moved by your psalm. It is simply beautiful and so full of thanksgiving and praise. What a perfect way to celebrate the upcoming holiday. Of course I am voting this up and beautiful.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks ktrapp, for your votes and your kind encouragement. Hope you find your psalm and be inspired again.

Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

I think you know I love the Psalms and I often take various verses to use as mantras that get me throught the day or a situation, etc. I love that you wrote this and suggesting that we write a Psalm of Thanksgiving is wonderful and something I will do before this day has passed. Thank you!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

You made my day, Dee aka Nonna. Glad you will act on this suggestion. That's exactly how I felt when I wrote mine--that I had to do it that day. Thanks for your encouragement!

Eddie-Perkins 5 years ago

Thank you Ms Dora for writing this. It is certainly thought provoking – praise and thanksgiving provoking. Very useful. Vote up and beautiful. ~ eddie

MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Eddie-Perkkins, thanks for your comments and your votes. Always a privilege to have you drop by.

jagandelight profile image

jagandelight 5 years ago from Florida

This hub is a great testament to God's love towards us. His goodness and mercy endureth forever and ever for all generation.

Thanksgiving is apart of my life---Praise be to our God who is faithful to keep us.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

You're truly a worshiper, Jagandelight. It shows in your hubs. Glad you stopped by.

Chosenwoman 5 years ago

Enjoyed this post MsDora, in today's society we don't hear nor teach much on being Thankful these days, because people seem to think that if they don't have everything then they have no reason to be thankful, but I am so glad my parents taught us at a young tender age to always be thankful for what you have, don't look at what you don't have because you are rich by being thankful...

MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks for commenting, Chosenwoman. Glad you enjoyed this hub. Will post another one on thanksgiving later today. Hope you enjoy that one, too.

RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

Nicely done, MsDora! I think we can all use a lot more expressions of personal gratitude in our lives!

DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 5 years ago

MsDora, Very inspiring! Great suggestions! This is a lovely Psalm of Praise that you have composed! It's wonderful! We can always find something to be THANKFUL for when we have The Lord in our lives! I Love to Praise The LORD! God truly is FAITHFUl!

Thank You for sharing, In HIS Love, Grace, Joy, Peace & Blessings!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks RedElf and DeBorrah! Have a Happy Thanksgiving Season!

DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

How To Write A Short, Personal Psalm of Thanksgiving beautifully explained and such a lovely photo life should be appreciated

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you, DDE. That's my updated look for the 2013 thanksgiving.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

This is so beautiful. It all comes down to one of your final words, "There will always be a reason to thank God".

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Marlene, that's a great conclusion. We can always say, "Thank God" and mean it.

lovedoctor926 3 years ago

Beautiful & inspirational. We must thank God for our blessings.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

LoveDoctor, thank you for your encouragement. I agree with you. Thanks to God is a necessary response from us.

SAM ELDER profile image

SAM ELDER 3 years ago from Home

Beautiful ... inspirational and at the same time so personal... Your articles always touch, affect and make people better.. Thank you MsDora

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

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

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

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!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

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

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

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.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

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.

jtrader profile image

jtrader 2 years ago

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

MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

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.

lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

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.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

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

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 13 months ago from sunny Florida

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

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

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

Lareene profile image

Lareene 12 months ago from Atlanta, GA

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

MsDora profile image

MsDora 12 months ago from The Caribbean Author

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

sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 12 months ago

God's Grace ample on you

MsDora profile image

MsDora 12 months ago from The Caribbean Author

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

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 12 months ago from California

Loved this--especially in light of the upcoming holiday

MsDora profile image

MsDora 12 months ago from The Caribbean Author

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

truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 12 months ago from New Orleans, LA

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.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 12 months ago from The Caribbean Author

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

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 weeks ago from Northern California, USA

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.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

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

Irvin Watson 8 days ago

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

MsDora profile image

MsDora 8 days ago from The Caribbean Author

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

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