“This is the prayer they offered:
We thank you,
every soul and heart reaches out to you,
O name free of trouble,
honored with the designation God,
praised with the designation Father,
To all and all things come fatherly kindness
and affection and love.
And if the instruction is sweet and simple,
it grants us mind, word, and knowledge:
mind, that we may understand you,
word, that we may interpret you,
knowledge, that we may know you.
We are happy,
enlightened by your knowledge.
We are happy.
You have taught us about yourself.
We are happy.
While we were still in the body
you have made us divine through your knowledge.
The thanksgiving of those approaching you is only this:
that we know you.
We have known you,
light of mind.
Life of life,
we have known you. …
Eternal constancy of the father who conceives,
so have we worshiped your goodness.
We ask one favor:
we wish to be sustained in knowledge.
We desire one protection:
that we not stumble in this life.”
~The Prayer of Thanksgiving from the Nag Hamadi Codex
I know this isn’t Thanksgiving, but we have reasons to be thankful at all times. Besides, I just read this prayer, so I’m going to write about it. For those of us seeking spiritual enlightenment, we especially have reason to thank God and Christ for all they give us. It appears that some part of this prayer are addressed to Christ, while other lines are addressed to the Father.
The prayers starts by saying that souls and hearts reach out to God. This is, of course, very much true. It is impossible to have an awakened soul and not feel obligated and thankful to God so those who deny that God exists (with no proof, of course) are saying that they have failed to awaken their souls and are therefore no more than simple animals, without realizing it.
We are later told that God gives us mind to understand Him, word to interpret Him, and knowledge to to know Him. It may seem to some like knowledge and mind go together, but not in this case. The knowledge they are talking about here is the Divine Knowledge called Gnosis. This is not a mere gathering of data followed by an attempt to form theories based on it. When one has achieved Gnosis, she simply knows. This is knowledge that is totally true and complete. It is the knowledge of God, the spiritual worlds and the physical as well. One who has this knowledge never has to guess at anything, especially what God is or what God wants of us.
The prayer than gets into happiness, and reasons for it. It starts by repeating that they are happy because they have been enlightened by knowledge. Again, this is not what is ordinarily called knowledge in the academic world, but Gnosis. They are happy because they have been taught about God. This is a major part of Gnosis. It is more than just an intellectual understanding of God. Instead, the enlightened person experiences, usually very briefly, what it is actually like to be God. The old “walk a mile in my shoes” type of understanding.
The last thing they say they are happy about is very significant and need to be looked at with more detail. It says they are happy that God has made them divine while still in the body through His Knowledge (gnosis). This is significant because there are so many people who believe that they needed worry about spiritual matter until they depart the physical world (like waiting until your plane crashes in the middle of the ocean to decide you will learn to swim: too late!). The great Gnostic and Mystic teachers of the past and present tell us that it is foolish to wait until we are dead to try to become spiritual. We have to do it while we are still on the material plane and this part of the prayers backs that up.
They then go on to thank God and Christ for giving them knowledge, Light, and Life. The Light they are talking about is not coming from candles or oil lamps. This is the spiritual Light that comes to us primarily through the spiritual sun. And the Life, or Life of life, is not the temporary life of the body, but the eternal life in spirit which they have been smart enough to awaken while still living on this level.
Finally, they ask God for one favor and one protection: that they be able to hold onto the Gnosis and that they be protected against that which makes us stumble, or turn away from the spiritual. Excellent things to pray for and an excellent prayer overall.