January 2-3, 2016
When I was little, going to a restaurant was a rare treat. On a road trip one summer, my family tried a great hamburger joint. It was a kid’s dream place. The menu featured greasy burgers, salty fries, and thick milkshakes. They had a server who took our orders at the front window. You have to remember, this was a different era, so he had an “annoying” habit. He actually made the children say “Please” and “Thank You”. No “please”, no “thank you” … no hamburger, fries, or milkshake. It was a quick and easy lesson, straightforward, with lots of incentive to learn quickly.
As a kid, I thought it was strange to say please and thank you to get something you actually had to pay for. But, in retrospect, it really provided positive reinforcement for the lessons my parents were teaching me at home, such as: I am not entitled to anything; I am dependent on others for the items I need and want; I should always be thankful for everything I get. They’re all accurate and valuable lenses to develop. We could use more servers like that in the world today reinforcing those principles. Actually, more parents need to roll out this strategy with their kids.
Our interactions with God should follow and reflect these same lenses. Our prayers should always include “please” and “thank you”. You see, we often view life through very entitled lenses. We deserve no traffic on the way to work, a good job, a nice house, good health, well-behaved kids. No one close to us should be dying. These lenses just propagate the “I am King” and “My kingdom come, my will be done” mentality that spreads like a virus, infecting all areas of our lives. If we just keep repeating our concerns to God, with a disrespectful and entitled attitude, we will live in a state of confused tension not knowing why Santa Claus, I mean God, isn’t giving us what we demand.
However, when you follow up your request by thanking Him for the grace He has already extended to you, the past trials that have strengthened you, and for prayers He has already answered, your mindset becomes much more positive and in line with His sovereignty and agenda. Thankfulness keeps you aware of the reality of His actions on your behalf. Thankful prayers for everything, both the good and the bad, keep your focus on Him as the ultimate Authority.
Today, when you bring your prayer requests to God, please say “please.” Speak clearly and candidly … lay out your concerns … pour out your heart. Then immediately thank Him for the answers that He has already set in motion. More importantly, look closely for His answers, because they might not be packaged as you expect. If it seems as if God isn’t answering your prayers, you need to re-tune your system to a different channel because God is answering with the plan that is the best fit for you right now. Whether you have a thankful and humble attitude, or you gaze at life through entitled lenses is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, This is Your world, Father. You made it and You control it. I relinquish all control into Your hands … I trust You completely. I thank You, Father, for the gift of receptivity that You have planted in my heart. I thank You for the answers to my prayers that are already on their way. Please grow in me a humble and thankful attitude. Please give me eyes and radar to see Your answers to every prayer request, because I know You always answer. But when Your answer is different from what I want, I sometimes don’t see it. I will start to look carefully using Your lenses. I pray in the name of the One in whose name we are called to pray, Christ Jesus; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2
As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:3-4
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:14,15