Silence for 2-5 minutes:
If your mind wanders, silently pray a simple prayer again and again, such as, "I surrender to your love" or "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" until the Holy Spirit gives you a sense of peace and focus.
1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
3 When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before[c] your presence. 4 For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.
5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. 6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.
7 But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.
9 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! 12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
13 Be gracious to me, O Lord! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death, 14 that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation.
15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. 16 The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.
17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
19 Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! 20 Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
One of the songs we sang in the church of my childhood was Count Your Blessings. The first verse encourages the believer to, “Count your many blessings name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” I think this simple song hits upon an essential truth. Without intentional gratitude, we are prone to negative thinking that focuses on all that is wrong rather than the “wonderful deeds of the Lord.” But, when we count our blessings, it is a revolutionary act that brings utter surprise and real happiness, for we see what the Lord has done.
Psychological studies have linked gratitude to the following benefits: happiness, positive emotions, health, fewer aches and pains, progress in attaining personal goals, generosity, empathy, better sleep, healthy self-esteem and more. All of us want to experience these things and God has given us the pathway to have them.
I became very sick a few years ago, to the point of hospitalization. Thankfully, I recovered after a couple of weeks, and though weakened, I was able to resume my life. Once well, I was struck with how little I had practiced gratitude. Things that I had taken for granted before became precious gifts to me. The warmth of the sun on my face. The gift of food and health. My beautiful wife and children. The daily presence of the Holy Spirit in my life were all priceless gifts that I had glossed over. I wept in both gratitude and repentance. It was my “wake up call” to be grateful.
The Apostle Paul tells us that thankfulness is a crucial component of prayer. He writes in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul understood that without the ingredient of thanksgiving, our prayers can easily become gripe sessions, where God is seen as one who never does enough for His children. But with thanksgiving, prayer helps us surrender all to an incredibly generous Father. The fruit of intercession and gratitude becomes freedom from anxiety and peace that transcends our circumstances.
Make a list of the ten things you are most grateful for. Prayerfully, add to the list each day. It will truly, “surprise you to see what the Lord has done!”
Lord, help me to be grateful to you today for gifts both great and small. I have often been ungrateful. I have often played the victim and for this I repent. Like David, I want to daily recount all of your wonderful deeds. Like Paul I want to be thankful for Your indescribable generosity (2 Cor. 9:15). Amen!