A prayer of gratitude
‘Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.’ (Psalm 103:1-5, NIV)
‘When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God… Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery… You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.’ (Deuteronomy 8:10-14, 17-18, NIV)
‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’ (James 2:17, NIV)
‘What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?’ (1 Corinthians 4:7, NIV)
Everything we have is a gift from God. Yet so often our prayer lives can consist of asking Him for things, rather than thanking Him for the ways He has already blessed us. Often our lack of gratitude can be because we fail to stop and recognise the good we have received, or we think of it as the fruit of our own achievement rather than a gift from God.
Take a few minutes to consider the following questions, and listen for any prompts from the Holy Spirit:
- How easy is it for me to remember that everything I have is a gift from God? Do I forget His benefits?
- What good things have I received this week? Try to list a few for each of the following categories: spiritual blessings, material blessings, emotional blessings, relational blessings.
- Do I believe that God is consistently generous? Or do I imagine Him to be like a changing, elusive, shifting shadow?
- How can I learn to practice gratitude better, recognising and then giving thanks for every blessing from God?
Father of Lights,
Giver of every gift.
You alone are good,
So every good thing must,
Emanate from you.
Help me to grow in gratitude,
Recognising each gift,
And returning to the giver,
With thanks and praise.
Every breath of air
You allow into my lungs –
20,000 per day –
Each is a reason for thanks.
I thank you.
Every beat of my heart,
That pumps life around my body –
100,000 per day –
Each is a reason for gratitude.
I can’t keep up with them.
Every thing I enjoy,
Every failure for which I’m forgiven –
Far too many to count!
It all comes from your generous hand.
May I never take for granted,
Either the gifts,
Or the giver.
Gratitude is powerful for building and deepening healthy community. It helps to combat cynicism, it builds others up, and it creates an atmosphere of faith. The Hebrew word for ‘testimony’ means ‘to repeat’. As we hear the stories of what God has done in people’s lives, it can give us faith that he will do it again!
Today, speak to some friends, whether from church outside of church, and do one or more of the following:
- Tell them a story of how God has been good to you. Sharing your testimony will do you good personally, but it may also help your friend to have faith to experience God’s goodness in their life.
- Thank them for ways in which they have been a blessing to you. Be as specific as possible in your thanks.
- Along with some friends, set yourself a goal of keeping a daily gratitude journal, and commit to sharing it with one another this time next week.
To think more about this subject, you may enjoy this talk by Liam Thatcher on Luke 17 and the Cycle of Gratitude.