Out of habit (not because it is the right way or only way to pray), I typically start out my prayers by thanking God for the day at hand, and any other things that I am feeling especially thankful for. Then I proceed to ask for forgiveness for my sins, and progress through my conversation with God. When praying with my children, I have always followed this pattern as well.
Now, when I listen to my children pray out loud, it is obvious that they have picked up on my prayer habits, and usually begin and end with thankfulness.
In the mind of a child, it is easy to thank God for the small things, and the obvious things – such as this day, the sunshine, the rain, food, friends, etc. After all, God created us with a heart of gratitude for His goodness. It is His will that we practice being thankful, as stated in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything A)”>give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)
But as we grow up and life gets busy, we often lose that innate desire and ability to be thankful. We tend to look at all the problems, instead of the blessings, and focus on all the things we wish were different, instead of all the things that are good.
So in light of the season, I thought it would be nice to return to that child-like mentality, and focus my prayers on nothing but thankfulness. I created a gratitude list and poured my heart into thanking God for each thing that came to mind. It was refreshing, and thought provoking, and reminded me of many God-given blessings that I take for granted every day.
I want to encourage you today, to put aside your ‘normal’ way of praying, making your only focus be one of thanksgiving, and create your own gratitude list. If you are like me, as you focus specifically on your gratitude to God over everything else, you may have lots of things come to mind that you would ordinarily not even pause to think about. To help get your thoughts rolling, I will share with you my own gratitude list.
My 2011 Gratitude List:
1. My relationship with Jesus Christ and knowing that I am whole because of Him
2. The privilege of being allowed to worship Him freely in this country
3. My faith, and knowing that He is always with me
4. The possession of many Bibles for me and my family to read
5. My husband Michael, and the 21 1/2 years we have been together
6. Having a loving husband that provides for our family & loves our children
7. Having a husband who is my best friend
8. Two beautiful daughters and one handsome son, and the joy of watching them grow up
9. A husband and 3 children who all love the Lord, & that all our extended family members love the Lord
10. The incredible church we belong to, and all the people who attend there that are so dear to our hearts
11. Our Youth Pastor, Kasey, who has helped foster my children’s walk with God
12. The re-dedication of faith, and baptism, of my two teenage daughters this year
13. Seeing my son go down to the altar at church and pray a few weeks ago when God spoke to his heart
14. The happiness in our home and the heart of God that makes it a wonderful place to live
15. The precious laughter of my family and the fun times we enjoy together
16. Good health
17. Being blessed with the best mother in the world, who I also call ‘best friend’
18. My Dad, sister and brother and their spouses and all the little nieces and nephews that we love
19. My husbands parents, sister and her husband, of whom love us as dearly as we love them
20. Having cars to drive to get us where we need to go
21. Good schools and education systems for our kids
22. Feeling safe and secure in our home and neighborhood
23. Knowing that we have enough to food to eat each day
24. The joy of being a speaker and a writer
25. The blessing of being a part of the Godly group of women at Proverbs 31 Ministries
26. The privilege of working at a local Pregnancy Resource Center and witnessing to women in need
27. Clothes to wear, shoes for my feet, and a warm coat for the winter
28. Clean air to breathe
29. Peace in my heart even when life is not peaceful
30. Cell phones, so I can always reach my loved ones, especially my teenagers
31. Clean water to drink
32. A computer, and access to the Internet so I can share what God lays on my heart with others; be encouraged by reading how others experience God in their lives; stay connected with everyone, and more.
33. Apple Butter & Starbucks coffee
34. The beach
35. A soft bed to sleep in every night, and my contour foam pillow
36. Sweet friendships with my girlfriends
37. The problems that we have encountered this year, because they have brought us back to a greater dependence on God
38. How God has used some difficult circumstances in my marriage to bring my husband and I closer together
39. Christmas, my favorite time of the year, and all the sights, sounds, and smells that it brings
40. The smell and feel of a fresh, crisp morning which revitalizes my spirit
What will be on your gratitude list today?