Some time ago I heard the true story of two parents grieving the untimely loss of a child. A caring church leader extended his love and concern for the family when he visited in their home. Before he left, he asked if they would like to pray with him. Certainly, they responded, we need the Lord’s comfort. Unexpectedly, the visitor then invited the father to pray and encouraged him to give voice only for the things for which he and his family were grateful.
As this good father poured out his heart in gratitude to the Lord for all his family’s blessings, including that of having had their beloved child in their lives, even for so short a time, and for His spirit of peace and the knowledge that one day they would be reunited with this child, a true sense of comfort and healing buoyed their grieving souls. Expressing gratitude changed them.
Prayer by its very definition is asking the Lord for blessings. Christ himself is our exemplar of prayer. He prayed to His Father in behalf of His disciples; and He taught those same disciples to pray, encouraging them to plead for the sustenance of life, forgiveness for themselves, the ability to forgive others and deliverance from evil (Luke 11:2-4). Other scriptures urge us to cry unto God over our fields and flocks, in our houses and over our households (Al. 34).
But since I heard this story, I have tried to spend more time offering gratitude prayers, setting aside what I want the Lord to do for me and instead offering Him gratitude for all He has already given me and mine. The moments I spend in contemplation of the blessings I have received and expressing that to our Father are simply healing, comforting, and peaceful. I believe the Lord already knows what I need and what blessings I urgently desire him to pour down upon my children and grandchildren. So sometimes I just say thank you. Expressing gratitude changes me.