A three-fold Thanksgiving prayer

Mantle Nance Contributing Columnist

November 27, 2013

The greatest gift our generous God gives His people is the gift of Himself. Let us, therefore, offer up to the Triune God of grace a threefold Thanksgiving prayer:

Thanks be to the Father, who for eternity has dwelt with His Son and the Holy Spirit in perfect light, life and love. The 12th century Scottish theologian, Richard of Saint Victor, posed the question: “Why is God three persons rather than just one?”

He based his answer on 1 John 4 wherein twice we read, “God is love.” And love is relational, love is outgoing and overflowing; it takes more than one to have love. God is a Trinity of Love. And that love has overflowed to us: The Father so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Through his adopting grace, the Father makes believers more than mere servants; he makes us sons and daughters of God. As the 19th century South Carolinian, the Rev. Dr. John L. Girardeau, put it, “The servant with hat in hand stands at a respectful distance awaiting the orders of his master. The child of God … rushes into the presence of his Father, leaps into his lap, and nestles in his bosom!” Thanks be to the Father …

And, thanks be to the Son, who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). Our culture is asking “what is God like?” We may answer, “You need look no further than Jesus Christ, in whom we behold the glory, generosity and grace of God. In Christ and His Cross we really do see that God is love!” In matchless love for us, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Years ago a British newspaper asked its readers to answer the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” Well known writer G. K. Chesterton submitted the following response: “Dear Sirs, ‘I am.’ Sincerely Yours, G. K. Chesterton.” Like Chesterton, I am thankful that Jesus did not come into the world to save people who have it all together, but to save sinners like me. Thanks be to God that though the wages of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ his Son (Romans 6:23). Thanks be to the Father, thanks be to the Son …

And, thanks be to the Holy Spirit, whom the Church fathers called the Bond of Love between the Father and the Son; the One who knitted us together in our mother’s womb, who gives us every breath we take and every beat of our hearts; who inspired every word of Scripture and gives us ears to hear and hearts to believe it; who convicts us of sin, draws us to Jesus and grants us repentance and faith in Him; and who reminds us that we are not alone, that God is with his people.

Saint Augustine once prayed, “LORD, you made us for yourself; our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you.” When God gives us his Spirit he gives us that rest. The 17th century mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

When the Holy Spirit comes, He fills that vacuum and satisfies our hearts with the Triune life of God. When the Spirit comes, God himself comes: the gift and the giver are one.

Thanks be to the Father,

Thanks be to the Son,

Thanks be to the Spirit,

Our God: The Three in One.

Through Christ we pray, Amen.

Mantle Nance is the pastor of the Newberry Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church ( He holds a bachelor of arts degree in religion from Furman University and a Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary. He is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He lives in Newberry with his wife and two sons.