Prayers of a grateful heart…
I’ve prayed for many things. Guidance, peace, deliverance, and provision have frequented my list. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the access we have to God. Not just access to what He does or even what He has promised to do — just access to Him. I am even more amazed when I consider all that He has done to give us that access. Whether it is the Almighty giving commandments or God the Father giving His Son, it is clear that He loves to relate to us.
When it comes to relating to God, however, we may wrestle with feelings of unworthiness or struggle to find the “right” words. Regardless of our familiarity or frequency with prayer our approach can vary.
We may come awestruck, anxious, or fearful. We may utter a petition, praise or a complaint. I am often helped by the prayers recorded in Scripture. They provide tremendous insight to the motives of the human heart and what matters most to God.
In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus describes two men who stood in the temple praying. One was a Pharisee (a teacher of the Jewish law) and the other man was a tax collector (and a regular kind of guy). They both prayed a prayer of thanks. Let’s listen in.
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: “I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income. But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’
The Pharisee had a high opinion of himself and he thanked God for it. But there was another prayer heard in the temple that day. It was a thank you that God is merciful and a hope that His mercy would be applied to a sinner’s heart.
“…a grateful heart is a humble heart. A humble heart centers on God.”
I can relate to the tax collector. But to be completely honest, I can relate to the Pharisee too. I thank God for the mercy He applies to my life. With His help, I am continually learning how to show that same mercy to other people. If I just consider my faults or the faults of others my frustration or my ego soars. But when I consider who God is my gratitude grows.
The tax collector’s prayer shows that a grateful heart is a humble heart. A humble heart centers on God. The Pharisee only saw himself in his prayers. His prayer certainly leaves an impression. But the tax collector focused on the Lord. His prayer reflected that God had made an impression on him.
If that’s you too, then here’s some good news: the prayers of a grateful heart will get the attention of our Great God. As we focus on His love and His power, our gratitude to Him can overshadow whatever (or whoever) is disappointing to us.
Let’s purpose to infuse our prayers with an attitude of gratitude. I believe by the time we say “amen” there will be a lot more hope in our hearts and joy in our souls.
Next Week: The Gratitude Test
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34 NKJV
How does praying “thank you” help you?
(Share your thoughts in the comment section.)