God’s will is that we give thanks constantly for all his benefits. St. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
The starting point of our thankfulness is God’s giving. All that we have is a gift from his hand. He gives. We receive and give thanks. In teaching us how to live a holy life of thanksgiving, Dr. Martin Luther (Nov. 10, 1483 to Feb. 18, 1546) reveals a Trinitarian shape to both God’s giving and our return of thanks in his treatment of our “Daily Prayers” and the Apostles’ Creed. (Luther’s Small Catechism. Concordia Publishing House: St. Louis, MO, 2018 ed.)
Under “Daily Prayers,” both the Morning Prayer and the Evening Prayer begin, “I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son ...” After mealtime, all reverently and with folded hands say: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever.” Then follows: “We thank You, Lord God, heavenly Father, for all Your benefits, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.”
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Luther’s commentary on the Apostles’ Creed lays out the richness of God’s generosity to us and our duty to return thanks:
The First Article: God the Father (Creation)
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.
The Second Article: The Son of God, Jesus Christ (Redemption)
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.
The Third Article: The Holy Spirit (Sanctification)
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.
A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.