II Samuel 12:1-4, “So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When Nathan arrived he said, ‘There were two men in the same city: one rich, one poor. The rich man had a lot of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing – just one ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised that lamb, and it grew up with him and his children. It would eat from his food and drink from his cup – even sleep in his arms! It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to visit the rich man, but he wasn’t willing to take anything from his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had arrived. Instead he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the visitor.”
This is one of the few passages in the Bible that refers to pets. The Jewish people of the Old Testament did not keep dogs or cats as pets, it seems. Pet birds are mentioned in the book of Job.
I cite this story from the Old Testament to point out the intensity of the relationship between the man and his pet. Just as modern people become very attached to their “companion animals,” so did he. The popular species for pets have changed, but the human heart and its potential affection for animals have not changed. In fact, I propose that God implanted this as an instinct in humans, from our creation. Likewise, God created some animals (not all) with the instinct to live with humans. That is why we find domestic animals mentioned along with wild animals and creeping things in Genesis 1 and 2. Some creatures want to be left alone in the wild; others want to live under the protection of humans.
The significance of this in the context of the Thanksgiving holiday is that we owe God thanks for the provision not only of food and shelter, but for the gift of pets.
Some folks have trouble thinking that Christians should pray for animals. The idea seems to be that God is only concerned about spiritual things, and so praying about physical things (like animals) is useless. That is a big mistake. Jesus prayed about healing people (physically) and not just spiritually. Jesus told us in the Lord’s Prayer to ask for our daily bread. That is pretty much physical stuff!
I have difficulty imagining that the poor man in the story of II Samuel would not have prayed for his ewe lamb. If he ate and drank and slept beside the creature, surely it entered his prayers!
What exactly would you pray FOR if you prayed for your pet?
Start with the obvious. How about thanking God for the companionship provided by the animal? Thank God for His wisdom in making such lovable creatures. For providing such a creature for you and your family.
This might be a new holiday tradition for your family. Include the family pet(s) in your thanksgiving!