September 2015

Say ‘Thank you’


I am writing this in the week after the Prayer Marathon - a 25-hour extravaganza across the Abbeydore Deanery bringing together all the five benefices to pray in a variety of different ways for the work of the Deanery. It was an extraordinary experience with some memorable and uplifting moments - including, from within our benefice, an hour of Taizé prayer at Craswall at some unearthly hour on the Saturday morning. 


A number of people mentioned that they did not realise that there so many different ways in which one could pray. Sadly, for a lot of people, if they are taught to pray at all, it is to ask for things  - intercessory prayer in churchespeak - and that is where their experience stops.


Now, there is nothing wrong with asking God for things. God is our father, and I suspect a father who had a child who never asked for anything would be a worried one rather than a proud one. 


The problem is if we always spending our time asking and never say’ thank you’. And we need to say ‘thank you’ not because God will be grumpy if we don’t, but because, if we don’t, we are signalling that we regard whatever we are given as our due. And God gives in abundance. He gives us life, he gives us our many gifts and talents, he gives us food and drink, clothing and shelter. Most of all, he gives us love and forgiveness, and if I am asked why people go to church, I would say that, above all, it is because in church, we are week by week assured and reminded of God’s love and forgiveness


I don’t think we can seriously ask God for anything large if we are not prepared to thank him for things which are small. If we do, it is perhaps as sign that we might acknowledge God, but deep down we are making ourselves the centre of the universe, and people who do that tend to end up living in a universe with remarkably few people in it.


I think it is an immensely valuable exercise when we go to bed, to review the past day and to see ow many things during that we ought to be thankful for, and then to give thanks for them. It would at the very least be a recognition that we can see al that God gives us already, and that is not bad thing to do before we present him with our list of what our further requirements are.


(As a footnote, I might just add that God is a responsible father, who does not give his children whatever they ask for. He does, however answer all prayer - it might just not be in the way we would expect. For example, men of my age might just find themselves asking God for a swanky sports car, and, if we listen, we might just hear him say that what we actually need it to cope with growing older with just a little more grace. And if we complain to God that we keep on asking him for world peace and he doesn’t do anything about it, again we might just hear him say, ‘ I have done something about it: I made you.’

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