I’m sitting comfortably in my study with a hot cup of coffee. Today is Thanksgiving and I am thinking about my life and inwardly calculating my degree of gratefulness.
I’ve noticed that, too often, my tendency toward self-pity causes me to look sideways rather than heavenward when I’m voicing my prayers. The inner script goes something like this:God, I’m having a really hard time. But, at least, I can be thankful that I’m not as bad off as [insert someone’s name here].
In many ways, that’s a better prayer than the one that actually forms when I glance over at others. As I hear them voice their woes with their own lives, I sometimes find myself chuckling at the trivial nature of their life challenges.
“At least, you don’t have the burdens I have!” I want to scream.
But they do have burdens and they impact them in the same way as mine do me even though they are different. Their problems cause worry and anxiety. And challenges plant a seed of envy as these folks look around and see others who seem burdenless because the cargo they carry is different.
True thanksgiving in moments like this can happen. Moving from a perspective of self-centeredness to one of gratefulness takes a small step.
Pray for others.
Pray to increase the good in their lives. Pray for their safety. Pray for their happiness. Pray that their loads be lifted.
Pray for your family, your friends, your enemies.
When we change the flow of our prayers, we alter the very nature of our relationship with God. When we pray with a view that others are more like us than different, when we pray with the understanding that every individual is valuable, when we pray with true gratefulness . . . we must also pray knowing that “Thy will be done” can only be offered honestly when “my will” merges with His. And we can, at last, experience true gratefulness.
And from those prayers flows true joy.