In 1972, President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation establishing the observation of one special Sunday each year in honor of America’s fathers. He described the rich heritage our fathers share with us as “one for which adequate thanks can hardly be offered in a lifetime, let alone a single day” and called on each American to “make this Father’s Day an occasion for renewal of the love and gratitude we bear to our fathers, increasing and enduring through all the years.”
As Christians, we should be the most grateful of all on Father’s Day. Ours is an even richer heritage because we have a Heavenly Father who has adopted us as his children and placed us into our earthly families as part of his good plan. We know that any love we receive from our parents is a glimpse of the Father’s love for us.
But because of sin, sometimes giving thanks for our parents isn’t that easy. The Bible says we should give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18), but how do you give thanks when your relationship with your parents is strained or even nonexistent? How can you be grateful when your parents don’t love you the way God intended?
The only way we can give thanks in difficult circumstances is through Christ. For while our parents’ love toward us may be lacking, Christ’s love for us is always perfect and never fails. He knows your pain, and he will help you to obey his commands to honor your parents and give thanks to him — even when it’s hard.
As Father’s Day approaches, let’s do as President Nixon suggested and make it an occasion for renewed gratitude toward our fathers. But even more importantly, let’s give thanks to God, who has graciously given us all things. To help us consider all that he has given us, here are five prayer prompts based on Psalm 100.
Lord, we give thanks to you for you are:
1. Our maker
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his” (Psa. 100:3).
God took such care in creating you — ordaining each of your days and intricately knitting you together in your mother’s womb (Psa. 139:13-16). Give thanks for the man and woman he brought together to give you life. Thank him not only for making you but for making you his.
2. Our shepherd
“We are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psa. 100:3).
Jesus is a good Shepherd. Thank him for calling you by name and for willingly laying down his life for you, his sheep. Reflect on how he has led you, protected you, restored you, and comforted you throughout your life — sometimes by way of your mother and father — and give thanks.
“For the Lord is good” (Psa. 100:5).
We have a good Father who gives us good gifts. Bless him for generously pouring out his grace and mercy on you through his son, Jesus Christ. Thank him for blessing you with adoption, redemption, forgiveness, and a guaranteed inheritance. In addition to these spiritual blessings, express your gratitude for the good gifts he has given you by the hands of your parents as well; thank him for a few specifically.
4. Steadfast in love
“His love endures forever” (Psa. 100:5).
When human love waivers, God’s love endures. Thank him for loving you so much that he has called you his child and for promising never to let anyone snatch you out of his hand (John 10:29).
“His faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psa. 100:5).
The Lord has been faithful to your parents’ generation, he is faithful to your generation, and he will continue to be faithful to future generations. Thanks be to God! Take a moment to recall specific instances of God’s faithfulness toward you and your family. Then as the psalmist writes, “Shout for joy to the Lord . . . Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs” (Psa. 100:1-2).
President Nixon was right — a single day of thanks doesn’t seem adequate, does it? When you’re God’s child, there’s plenty to be thankful for. So much so that the psalmist writes, “But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” (Psa. 79:13)
Still, we do give special thanks to God for our parents on this particular day. May our hearts be filled with gratitude as we consider all the blessings we have received as children of our Father in heaven and our fathers on earth.
This article contains an excerpt from 5 Things to Pray for Your Parents (The Good Book Company, 2021).