Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 14

Prayers of Thanks

Seeing as we’ve covered prayers of praise, why they are important, and some of the many and wondrous things we should praise God for, today we begin our discussion on prayers of thanks, or prayers of thanksgiving unto God.

If prayers of praise have more to do with who God is than what He does for us, prayers of thanks have more to do with our appreciation of the works of God in our life.

One of the first lessons I remember my mother teaching me in my adolescence, was to always say ‘thank you’ to anyone that did me any sort of kindness. It was not something she mentioned in passing, but rather something she focused on diligently for many days, and whenever we would be out in public, and I failed to say ‘thank you’ to someone, even for the most insignificant of things, she would get a frown on her face, and start wagging her index finger.

Eventually, the wagging finger and the frowns became more sporadic, and at one point ceased altogether, because I had learned my lesson, and thanked everyone I came in contact with, for everything they did.

Thankfulness, I’ve come to understand, is a state of mind. If we feel we are entitled to something, if we feel we are owed kindness or favor we will be hesitant in extending our thanks, because we assume it is the way it ought to be, and the person showing us favor or kindness was just doing their duty.

When we realize that we are neither owed anything, or entitled to anything, and when someone does us a kindness it is incumbent upon us to be thankful and show our appreciation, we will more often than not say ‘thank you’ even for something as trivial as someone opening a door for us.

What God has done on our behalf, what He has done in our lives, extends far beyond opening a door, letting us cut in line because we’re in a hurry, or bringing us extra sugar packets with our coffee. If we are thankful toward men for the little things, the trivial things, how much more thankful ought we to be toward God, who saved us and redeemed us and sanctified us?

It is often that we as men fail to thank God even for the most priceless of gifts. We cry out to God for His mercy, He is merciful and answers our prayers, then the conversation ends, and we never take the time to go before Him with prayers of thanks.

God doesn’t owe me my health, God doesn’t owe me my loving wife, and God doesn’t owe me the roof over my head. God owes me nothing! I owe God everything, and when He pours out His mercy by way of healing in my body, or a good and loving relationship with my wife, or with the fact that I am not homeless and have a roof over my head, I must not be slow in my prayers of thanks toward Him.

We must acknowledge the fact that all good things come from God. Men just as smart as me, who work just as hard as I do, who take better care of themselves than I ever would, who are sensitive to their wives’ feelings just as readily as I am, go from one catastrophe in their lives to another, seeing all that they labored for turn to dust. It is not because I am more deserving, more capable, or more committed, it is because God has chosen to show me favor, just as He has chosen to show you favor, and for this we must be thankful to Him.

We cannot take the goodness of God for granted. We cannot take the blessings of God for granted, we must show appreciation where appreciation is due, and not be reticent in thanking Him for all that He does in our lives.

During Christ’s time of ministry on earth, he was approached by ten lepers. During those days, it was a horrible thing to be a leper, not that things have improved much over the course of time where leprosy and men’s reaction to it is concerned.

Leprosy is a very visible disease, one that cannot be masked, and during those days, individuals suffering from it were avoided, shunned, ostracized, and banished. Leprosy begins with skin lesions, and being a progressive disease, it eventually begins to deform the fingers and toes, as cartilage begins to be absorbed into the body. The limbs, the nerves, and the eyes are also affected by leprosy, and having been considered highly contagious, those showing signs of leprosy were summarily exiled outside the city.

These ten men stood afar off, not daring to come near, because they knew the ailment they suffered from, and they knew there was no cure for leprosy. Having heard of all the miracles Jesus had performed however, they began to cry out to Him and plead with Him to have mercy on them.

Luke 17:13-14, ‘And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ So when He saw them, he said to them, ‘go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.”

Up to this point all seems well. These ten lepers had enough faith that they began to cry out to Christ for mercy, and being merciful, Christ commanded them to go and show themselves to the priests.

If we understand this passage as it ought to be understood, when Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests, they were not yet made whole, or healed. Their healing occurred as they went, as they began to obey the command of Christ. As they made their way to the priest, they began looking at themselves, and at each other, and realized that they were men made whole, they were men renewed, and the disease that had plagued them and branded them outcasts, was no longer upon them.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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