Try this little experiment: For one day, make your initial response or greeting include a complaint. After your first hello, complain about something. (some people are really good at this). On day two, do the total opposite: Make your initial response or greeting include a thank you. After your first hello, be grateful about something, anything. If you were to do that, and then look back on those two days, you’d notice something. Emotionally, you and those around you would feel negative or positive, depending on how you start conversations. Studies show that people who are grateful are happier, and in turn, those who aren’t grateful are less happy.
We could all use a little more gratefulness. We know what it feels like to be appreciated. I bet we also know what it feels like when we show appreciation.
They say the enemy of gratefulness is entitlement. When we convince ourselves that we deserve all the ‘nice’ stuff we have, we forget to be grateful for all of it.
It’s one thing to be appreciative to friends and co-workers, but what about saying thank you to God? Or better yet, do we say thank you enough? Weeks go by when things are going great and we tend to leave God out of the equation. When a storm hits, we run to him for help. Now, the beautiful thing about God’s grace is that he hears us when we cry for help, even if we haven’t really been chatty with him for a while. A more balanced approach to faith and relationship (notice I didn’t say religion) includes words of ‘thanks’ to go along with our cries for ‘help’.
Prayer should and often does include the word ‘thanks’. We’ll say a quick ‘thank you God’ when something goes our way. We might even say it with more zest, like, ‘thank you thank you thank you God’ if a loved one makes it through an illness, a lost child is found or you get through a financial nightmare. Heck, even my atheist & agnostic friends might say something like, ‘I guess the big guy upstairs is looking out for me today’. The thing is, the same way we shouldn’t just go to God when we need help, we also shouldn’t just say thank you when something seems to go our way.
Thanks is at the heart of prayer. Thanks, not only needs to be part of our regular vocabulary, but more importantly, our prayer vocabulary.
In Colossians 3 (one of my favourite metaphors in Scripture) Paul writes about things we take off and things we put on. He wants to teach a group of early Christians what it means to live out the ways of Jesus. After summing up the behaviour you want to subtract, and the behaviour you want to add, Paul says these 3 powerful words, ‘And be Thankful’. It’s a really important add-on…like saying, ‘BTW in case you didn’t know, being thankful is an expression of our faith in Christ’.
Brian Walsh, in his book, Colossians Remixed, gives us this insight on how Paul’s 3 words are so vital for us today.
“we are held captive by dissatisfaction” … “ingratitude is
ingrained within every social class within the culture of money”
longer we live ungratefully, the more we strengthen the claims of a culture
that takes everything & everyone for granted”
caught in an insatiable craving for more, a culture of perpetual
dissatisfaction because there is never enough, the community renewed in the
image of the creator is characterized by radical gratitude”
I’m not sure how or when you pray. Of course, I know that I personally don’t pray enough, and I imagine it’s the same for you. Trying to pray consistently can be daunting, with overwhelming schedules and lots of demands. But if we don’t, we will only be consumed in our stuff which can distract us from the ways God wants us to live and the things he wants us to value. Prayer is allowing God’s voice to be the loudest and the clearest. A simple, yet profound way to hear him clearly is taking time to say THANKS. Saying thanks to God will change your view of the world, your view of God, and your view of others…and it will change you too.
Let’s keep prayer simple: Three words might do it – help, THANKS, wow!
(next week…WOW God)