Prayer and Gratitude Go Hand-in-Hand

Last week I posed this challenge to myself: Take the opportunity to express gratitude in prayer more frequently and sometimes give thanks exclusively, asking for nothing in return.

I didn’t get prescriptive about doing it, I just let the idea of doing so sit in the back of my mind as I went about my week. Three times, this spiritual challenge came to my mind spontaneously before my personal prayers.

I discovered these prayers had a different tone to them, more like this:

As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7: 7-11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.(LDS Bible Dictionary, Prayer)

I saw two other changes:

First, prayer and gratitude go hand-in-hand even more in my life than before.

Second, my optimism outweighs my pessimism as I see more of the blessings and I pay less attention to the negatives.

Have you ever prayed exclusively for the things you have been given, asking nothing in return? What happened? How did it change your other prayers? Your attitude?

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2 Comments

  1. Rebecca
    Nov 18, 2008

    Oh my goodness, I could write a whole book on the fantastic experiences I have had as a result of this marvelous challenge. This couldn’t have come at a better time. Let me try to explain without taking too much time.

    My husband and I have been struggling in this economy, so our prayers for the past month or so have been, “Please help us…, please give us… please make this happen…” I’ve known that I need to be more grateful for what I have, so I have been trying to make my prayers more thankful instead of “Please help.” Inevitably, though, that “Please help” always became the focus of the prayer more than anything.

    So when I read your challenge last week, I decided to implement a Thankful-Only week during prayers. We were not allowed to ask for ANYTHING. As we began, we struggled not to ask for anything, more out of habit than anything else. We found our prayers definitely have a rhythym and structure to them. It was wonderful to break that structure and force ourselves to think more as we prayed.

    It was easy to be thankful. We already knew we were blessed, but as we focused ONLY on gratitude, we saw new ways in which we are blessed. And as we stopped focusing on our problems, and instead saw only our blessings, our problems began to solve themselves. My husband had some wonderful, encouraging experiences at work, I found ways to spend less at the grocery store, my husband got a small bonus.

    We also felt that we came together as a couple much better. Before, when we were focusing on our problems, we thought we were working together to solve them. But really, we were just living in our seperate worlds, focusing on negative negative negative. Being thankful made us positive and made us a stronger team.

    The real test came yesterday, when my husband got a speeding ticket. We know it will be $70 plus the money for traffic school, and right now that is a setback. I felt that a week of thankful prayers helped me to sympathize with my husband rather than get angry, as I would have done previously. In my thoughts, I allowed myself to feel despair for a moment, but I know that I was blessed to be able to push the despair away. Then, when we had family prayer, I thought I needed to turn this situation around and be grateful for it. As I thought, I realized I was grateful for the “safe” lesson to slow down. We could have been given this lesson with an accident rather than a speeding ticket. I realized how grateful I was for our safety, health, and functioning cars. We later went to the mailbox and found a letter with $200 inside.

    The wonderful thing is, even if there hadn’t been $200 in our mailbox, I was already at peace with the situation. I already knew that we would be taken care of because my thankful prayer had offered me a wonderful peace.

    I wondered if I should be so personal here, but I decided I had to share this. We have had some wonderful miracles from expressing gratitude. But like I say, even if we hadn’t been taken care of financially, we already had felt a great peace and a wonderful strengthening in our marriage that we couldn’t have gotten if we had proceeded in our other ways.

    The week of Thankful-Only-Prayers is over, but I’m not ready to stop. I found that by focusing on gratitude, our struggles and problems are so much easier to deal with.

    I guess I didn’t write this without taking too much time. Sorry this is so long, but thank you so much for the challenge! I hope others tried it or will try it!

  2. An Ordinary Mom
    Nov 23, 2008

    I think I am going to try this this week. What a great way to start off the Thanksgiving week.

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