Prayers Of Thanks

January 28, 2011

My stepfather had surgery a week ago Tuesday so last week my son was praying for his grandfather’s safety and then for his speedy recovery. We stop and pray together every morning, at least on weekdays, before heading out the door. I’ve been encouraging him to think of what he wants to include in prayer and to say it out loud to help him learn he doesn’t need me voicing his prayers. I hope this becomes a lifelong pattern of him praying on his own and with other people.

His prayers are usually petitions, asking for things. They might include simple things like peace and cooperation in his classroom when the kids return from a break, or more selfless notions like comfort for people in times of disaster or aid to those who are suffering. But usually he’s asking for something, even if it’s “Please keep my grandpa safe and help him heal quickly.” But I noticed a shift at the end of last week.

His grandpa came through surgery very well and was ahead of schedule on his progress. My son was very relieved and he added thankfulness to his prayers. We were thankful for the skill of the surgical staff, thankful for the technology that allowed them to do their work, thankful for the hospital taking good care of him, and thankful that surgery to repair his condition had been discovered.

In addition to being deeply pleased my son was remembering to include thankfulness in his prayers, I realized part of my own practice of gratitude shows up in prayer. That’s not to say I’m good, or even consistent, at prayers of thanks. I’m a lot more consistent at those Psalms kinds of prayers: Why are you letting this happen? and When will you smite my enemies?

But I do include occasional thanks in my prayers. Sometimes I include them in time I plan for praying – which isn’t really very often – but usually they show up in a few reflective moments when I notice something good happening, look up and smile, and then close my eyes and say “Thank you.”

This is definitely something worth cultivating, so I intend to look for more opportunities to do it.

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