November Gratitude Stone 11 Prayer
Ask thankfully is my stone of remembrance today. Phil. 4:6 tells us not to worry about anything but to ask God and thank Him for his answers. Col. 4 reminds us to be watchful in prayer and thankful in it!
As I remember the things that God does and has done, I think about the example of people in Scripture who have been thankful as another reminder and example of being full of thanksgiving.
1 Sam. 1-2 tells the story of a very broken person who shows up year after year with her husband at Shiloh but does not enter the worship ceremony. Hannah is just too broken and defeated. But one year something was different. Somehow she comes to her senses as she decides to eat and then move into the inner court to pray. As Hannah changes her focus from her own unchanging circumstances to God and His provision she enters the inner courtyard of God’s presence. There is no way she ever would have known how God would answer the cry of her heart when she took her grief to the Lord. The point is that she worshipped in spite of her disappointment. She ran to the Lord at the lowest time in her life. She entered His presence with honest transparency.
Hannah has to be in the top ten of most thankful people in the Bible! Why?! She keeps wailing before the Lord, even when misunderstood by the priest as a drunk. She prays even when ridiculed by Peninah. She has a peaceful contentment and a glad heart after wrestling with God; even without knowing that she would ever conceive. After prayer and thankful worship, Hannah behaves as a completely restored and healed person. Praise is the result of being in God’s presence! He restored her spirit and gave her a spirit of gladness and hope.
I am often grateful for answered prayer, when I get what I asked for, but often not when I don’t. But, even more, I am hard pressed to think about giving back the answer as a sacrifice of praise. It is easier to give praise when it is convenient than to sacrifice to do so. It is easier to give from abundance than to give from poverty. Yet, the widow gave all she had and Hannah gave her son because she was so grateful to God.
Talk about a thankful heart! Hannah keeps her promise! She commits the answered prayer to the Lord – Samuel – her son! She learned how to hold God’s provisions loosely. We are given life to give it away. We are blessed to be a blessing. We can never out give God. We are meant to pour out our lives as a living sacrifice. We are created to proclaim the Good News and engage in good works. Gifts are meant to be offered back to the Lord. I want the grateful posture that Hannah had. Perhaps God waits for us to recognize the gifts we have been given and then to return them in sacrifice and praise. Perhaps joy comes doubly when we return the gift back to the Lord for the sake of the Kingdom. For example, Marriage is a gift. Kids are a gift. Life is a gift. Oh, that I can recognize that everything is God’s anyway. Oh, that I would experience it is best to give it all back to him. Oh, I want to keep my vows, knowing that a good God deserves my whole sacrifice. Oh, I would mean what I say and say what I mean. Oh, that I would believe God and enter into worship no matter the circumstance.
Lord, please continue to help me be grateful even before and in spite of the answers. May I never ask the Giver of all gifts without a thankful heart.
(Even when my husband still dies, Even when my choice for president loses, Even when I don’t get what I want, I will praise You!)