“What are five things you are thankful for today?” That was the blogging prompt or challenge for WordPress Bloganuary blogger participants today. I have lagged behind in my responses to the prompts, but this one caught my attention because it attunes so well to my mission for this blog – to learn to pray from the prayers of the Bible and from what the Bible teaches about communicating with God through prayer. When I read the question, Philippians 4:6-7 jumped into my mind:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Anxiety has slowed me lately. Concern about the health and safety of my children and grandchildren (increased by having not seen them in person for some time), an extended job search that was interrupted by a pandemic, a competition that I was organizing for a service organization that so far has failed to gel, and storm damage to my house have all contributed to distracting me from thankfulness and my usual “possible dreamer” orientation. Unwanted cynicism and pessimism infected my prayers. The prompt jolted me into awareness that so much remains for which to give thanks!
The verses quoted above immediately follow a reminder to “rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:4-5). In this world and in our lives that God has given us, reason to rejoice persists, even when we may struggle to detect it. Eight years ago I was in the hospital, seriously ill. A Facebook memory reminded me today that I had been thankful then. Friends and coworkers who took the time to call or visit me had infused me with badly needed energy. The visits especially encouraged me since I realized that having to gown and mask to come into my room created an emotional hurdle for some of my visitors. Their courage gave me strength and hope.
Today, despite distraction and discouragement, I am still very thankful for these five realities:
- My wife’s love, patience, and pragmatism.
- The aforementioned son and daughter. While both have encountered recent obstacles, their resilience has thrilled me.
- The ability to read, learn, and write. Every day, I make new discoveries about this universe in which we live.
- Viable shelter and transportation. Having a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in, as well as a means of getting to church and the grocery store mean a lot to me.
- This afghan that my wife recently made for me. It incorporates my favorite colors and keeps me warm. My wife truly is a talented person.
Writing about these five has reduced my anxiety. I have thanked God for my wife, children, and the other gifts that God has provided me. While lament, praise, confession, and petition all are important parts of balanced praying, remembering to say “Thank you!” to God remains essential for helping us to keep things in perspective.
For what five things are you thankful today?
* Quotations from the Bible are from the New International Version.