Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, with prayer and petition,
and with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus."
This is the first verse I ever memorized on my own and to this day it remains my favorite. It encourages me and reminds me to keep my focus in the right place - which means, much to my selfish pride's chagrin, not on me. I need reminding of this - often.
God's word frequently encourages us to give thanks, praise and appreciation to Him for all we have. God also tells us to 'enter his courts with praise' - but many times, when I go to God in prayer, I just skip to a little whining and a whole lot of complaining. You know, something like this:
'Oh, Lord! This is SO hard... this person is driving me nuts ...and that person is so insensitive...and how are we supposed to pay this bill...and my job is killing me...and my husband never listens. And have you been paying attention to little Johnny - at all? Can't you see where he's headed? I am SO overwhelmed - You know, I have to do it ALL by myself ...I wish I could just take a break or go on vacation - get away from it all! And WHY can't I have a new shiny Toyota Highlander with leather seats and a blue-tooth sound system like the cool parents on the TV commercial?"
Oops, ok, got a little too personal there but you get the point and I hope you can relate. If not to the Toyota Highlander part, at least to the rest of it. (I find myself wondering at this moment if God ever wants to just cover his ears and sing "La-La-La-La-La... I. Can't. Hear. You!")
So why are we supposed to approach God (enter his courts) with praise? I think for a couple of reasons.
First of all, and most importantly, for HIM: He is worthy of all our praise. He is the Alpha and Omega, the healer, the Savior, our strength, peace, joy, provider. He is eternal and all knowing, compassionate and so, SO patient and merciful. Our reasons to praise him are as unending as he is.
Secondly, for us: praise adjusts our attitude. When we begin our day and live out our lives with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, we find a lot less to complain about. I realize this is easier said than done and it's definitely something I need to work on. My complaining mouth has gotten me in trouble one too many times and I am working hard on 'taming' my rebellious tongue. But I am learning, sl-ow-ly...
I am learning things like:
It is hard to complain about dirty laundry and washing dishing when you are giving God thanksgiving for your husband and kids - the reason you have dirty laundry and dirty dishes.
Its hard to complain about extra paper work at the job when you are giving God thanks for providing you with a job so that you are not unemployed.
Its hard to complain about not being able to go out to eat steak when you're giving thanks that you have food on your table and your children are not going hungry.
Its hard to complain about not having a nice shiny new vehicle when you're thanking God for being debt free and stress free since you no longer worry about paying those credit card bills.Can anyone agree with me on this? When we have an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, all of a sudden there is less to run to God with to complain and grumble about. But if we don't have things to complain about, what will we talk to God about? I'm-a-thinking (ooh, scary - thinking!) that maybe, just maybe, if and when we stop finding things to complain about and we stop grumbling and whining, we'll find we can sit down with God and for once, just listen.
Listen? Really? Well, that's a novel idea. I might have to give it a try.
Hmmm...or maybe I'm just randering. What do you think?
What are some things that you are thankful for?
PS - Writing this post encouraged me to get out a book I bought quite a while ago. I got it, started reading it, loved it but then got distracted by another book (big surprise!) Any-hoo, its a great book and I encourage you to check it out.
"The Prayer That Changes Everything" by Stormie Omartian.