A Prayer for Preparing to Love All Kinds of People This Thanksgiving

     And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:16–19

     Lord Jesus, this passage underscores our calling to love all kinds of people in all kinds of situations—including holiday gatherings like Thanksgiving. No calling exposes our need for the gospel more than the command to love well, and no calling better positions us to trust you to do way more than we can ask or imagine.

     Because of your great love for us, Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of anything—dying or living. We’re thankful we can rely and draw upon the great love you have for us in the gospel. May your perfect love continue to drive out all our fears—including the fears related to the demands and risks of love.  

     Help us love our family members in fresh and creative ways. Fill us with your kindness, compassion, patience, and forbearance. Nobody in our families is beyond the need or reach of your grace. Don’t let us forget this; don’t let us disbelieve it.

     Jesus, help us love our friends well. Forgive us when we expect friendship to be a mutual admiration society, rather than a community for groaning and groaning in grace. And grant us strength for loving the irritating people in our lives—those easy to avoid and hard to forbear. Give us wisdom for loving the foolish people in our lives—those who drain our emotional capital, as they continue to make destructive choices. It’s your kindness that leads us to repentance; our guilt-ing and shaming will lead them in the opposite direction. Give us BIG grace and heavenly wisdom.

     Lastly, this Thanksgiving week, supersize our love for the lonely and alienated, orphans and widows, “the least and the lost,” for among them we will find you. Surely, there’s more room in our hearts and at our tables, to welcome them.

     Jesus, continue to reveal to us the measureless width, length, height and depth of your love for us (Eph. 3:18-19). There’s no other way we will choose to love, or be able to love, as you command. So very Amen we pray, in your kind and powerful name.