Assortment of pumpkins
November 15, 2021

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Pumpkins?

I am reminded to be grateful for God’s gift of plenty and pray for those in need whenever I see a pumpkin.

Have you ever thanked God for pumpkins? Do you recall them mentioned in your congregation’s prayer time? I guess it’s possible that someone mentioned being thankful for pumpkin pie but I honestly can’t recall pumpkins finding their way in either my private or public prayers.

Recently I’ve been perusing Wild Hope: Prayers and Poems by John Terpstra; a collection of poetic prayers that had their genesis in the Prayers of the People at St. Cuthbert’s Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Ontario. As I dip into the collection I keep being drawn to one prayer poem in particular, entitled, “A Prayer for All the Pumpkins.”

For our readers who do not live in North America pumpkins are in the squash family and are typically round and orange and often about a foot in diameter but can be white and much smaller or larger.

Pumpkins and pumpkin-spiced everything seem to abound in Michigan where I live. Yet, I never thought to include them in a prayer of thanksgiving. It takes a poet to think of that. Poets help us look at the world differently; to find meaning in the mundane, to spark our imagination, and call us to holy wonder.

Among the many verses of “A Prayer for All the Pumpkins” are found these:

      Thank you for the meat
      and for the seed
            of this funny food
      the only food
      we allow ourselves to play with

      the meat of a million pies
      so over-abundant
      that we rotate most of it
      back into the earth
      . . .

      We have good years
      and not-so-good
      but rarely have reason
      to feel anxious
      or abandoned
      by sun or rain
      which shine and fall
      around the world
      we know

      Help, we pray 
      those who suffer
      from too little, or too much
      of either,
      those who hunger
      those who drown . . .

—excerpt “A Prayer for All the Pumpkins” from Wild Hope: Prayers and Poems, by John Terpstra © 2020 John Terpstra. Published and sold by The St. Thomas Poetry Series, 383 Huron Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2G5, Canada, Used by permission.

Those are just a few of the verses that help me pray better. I am reminded to be grateful for God’s gift of plenty and pray for those in need whenever I see a pumpkin. Which happens frequently in Michigan this time of year.

So today I am especially grateful for the gift of poets and poems and encourage you to pick up one of John Terpstra’s collections of poems or any other collection by folks whose poems have found their way into Reformed Worship and worship services like Rod Jellema, Jan Richardson, Christopher Villiers, and Malcolm Guite to name a few. Read their poems, pray them, and allow your imagination to be shaped in a way that forms you more and more into the greatest poet, our Triune God.

You can hear John Terpstra read the entire poem “A Prayer for All the Pumpkins” here.


Rev. Joyce Borger is senior editor of Reformed Worship and a resource development specialist at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.