I’ve been trying to practice more gratitude over the last six or eight months or so. I certainly have enough to be thankful for. God’s mercies to me truly are new every morning. He has blessed me far more than I could ever deserve. Nevertheless, the troubles and sorrows of life often have a way of blinding me to those blessings.
Today was one of those days. I woke up tired. I drove to work tired. I drank more than my usual daily coffee allowance—and still was tired. Piles of work seemed to grow rather than diminish. Aside from a table blessing at lunch time, I don’t recall thinking or praying many thankful thoughts.
On my drive home from work (I didn’t even notice Pikes Peak even though I always notice beautiful Pikes Peak) the Holy Spirit brought to mind a very familiar passage of Scripture: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
A phrase stuck out to me as I pondered those familiar words: with thanksgiving. Until today, I’d usually breezed right over that part of the instruction. If you’d ask me God’s method for having peace that passes understanding I probably would have said, “Don’t worry, but pray about everything.” And I would have been half right. Yes, God definitely wants me to give Him my worries and heartaches, my frustrations and fears—but He wants me to mingle those with thanksgiving.
So I tried it. I thought about all those piles at work and the deadlines. I prayed and asked God for wisdom and help to get it done—well and on time. And then I took it the next step and thanked Him for the excellent team I work with who make the work load lighter and a whole lot more fun. Hmmm. I feel more peaceful already.
I thought about a big decision I have to make that feels really hard to me. I used to make big decisions with my husband and even though he’s been gone five years already, I still miss him. So I prayed and asked God for guidance to make the decision. To lead me into His paths. And then I thanked Him for all the ways He has faithfully guided me since my husband’s death. He really has been a Husband to me. He hasn’t failed me yet—I don’t think He will this time, either.
Granted, I haven’t much time to really practice this prayer + thanksgiving = peace idea—but I can see God’s wisdom all over it. When I combine prayer with gratitude, my faith builds. I remember all God has done already, and it helps me to trust Him for what is still to come. I want to live that way.
So God, please remind me to pray when I’m worried and to offer thanks when I pray. May thanksgiving flow from my heart just as easily as petition flows from my lips. And Father, thank You for showing me this. The fact that You wanted to teach me this encourages me because I know that You will be faithful to help me do it. And that’s very cool.