While leading a women's Bible study, we started to talk about thanksgiving. The Bible is full of admonishments to be thankful in all situations (such as Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17; and 1 Thessalonians 5:18). But we wondered, what exactly does this mean? And to be frank, how can God possibly expect us to be truly thankful in the midst of the challenges and tragedies we encounter throughout our lives?
A few days later I went for a walk, and as I began to pray about some painful situations our family was facing, I realized I was doing a whole lot of asking and very little thanking. I sensed God nudging me to bring an attitude of thankfulness to my requests and so I began again, adding thank you to my prayer and reorienting my thoughts accordingly.
I had no idea how much that would change my prayers … and me.
At first I'd prayed for a family member battling cancer this way: Lord, be with Sam (not his real name). Give him courage and strength as he goes through each day. I pray that your will be done in his life and that you will be glorified in whatever happens. Lord, if it is your will, please heal him.
But then, as I tried to pray in gratitude, my prayer became: Lord, thank you that you are with Sam. Thank you that he is your child and that you are never far from your children. Thank you that you promise to guard Sam's heart and mind with a peace that passes all understanding. Thank you that you alone hold life and death in your hands and that you will be glorified through his life.1