"A joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful."
"Praying the Praise Prayer - I Audibly"
"Be on the lookout for mercies. The more we look for them, the more of them we will see; Better to lose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings to counting your troubles."
What in my past has made me thankful for the way God has led me?
"Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy."
"A" - I audibly thank You for the way You have led me in the past.
Many years ago, I attended a seminar designed to assist women who owned small businesses. The facilitator asked each of us to write down the goals we had for our company during the upcoming year. Once we had written our plans on paper, we were divided into groups of 15 where we shared our plans with the other members of our newly-formed group. Finally, the seminar leader asked all of the over 300 women, if any of us would come up front and tell everyone what our plans were.
While everyone chose to participate in the first two assignments, there were only 15 women who agreed to verbally share with the entire group.
When the process was totally completed, the leader made this pronouncement: "Over 90% of those of you who came up front and "audibly" shared with us what you plan to accomplish next year will meet your goals. She continued to explain that while writing down plans helps solidify them in our minds, speaking out loud affects us even more. By talking about something, we not only imprint it in our minds but also in our actions.
This lesson is something I've never forgotten and it applies directly to the third line of the "Praise Prayer," which is: "I audibly thank You for the way You have led me in the past."
Do you ever remember hearing people say, "History repeats itself?" If you study the rise and fall of nations throughout the years, you'll find this statement to be true. Quite often it is the same mistakes that are made repeatedly.
However, I have some great news to share with you. Mistakes aren't the only things we find get repeated. Heaven's blessings are also repetitious! This is why we find Abraham, Isaac and Jacob building altars as they traveled. These altars became reminders of God's repeated blessings.
In Deuteronomy 6:3-9, KJV, when Moses was talking with the children of Israel, he instructed them to, "Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shalt be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."
After reading this passage, you might think the leader of the business seminar I attended was a Bible student and took her presentation straight from the pages of Moses’ writing. For it was Moses who said to the children of Israel that if you want to remember who God is, what He is and how He treats His children, write it down, read it, learn it and above all speak it.
Let me offer this suggestion. Several months ago I got a blank-page journal where I list prayer requests. Many Transformation Garden friends’ names are in my book. But recently, I added a section called: "Answered Prayers." Now I list the prayers God has answered. And I have found that when I get discouraged by present conditions, all I need to do is go through my personal list of the way God has come to my rescue in the past.
Just this last Friday, God helped me in a way He has done before, but when I was backed into a corner I forgot about His past blessings and found myself panicking, wondering what would happen when, in fact, God had solved the problems even before I asked Him.
One of the most important reasons for audibly thanking God for the way He has led us in the past is that it makes us "hustle-bustle" people "STOP" and take stock of our lives - everyday.
Let me explain this thought in practical terms.
You get up in the morning. You overslept because the alarm clock didn't go off. Because you were running late, you decided to skip breakfast. You grabbed the first outfit you could find in your closet that wasn't wrinkled, slapped on your make-up, ran a brush through your hair, gave the kids lunch money and told them you'd meet them at the car. As you ran toward the garage, with your hand on the door-knob you whispered, "Lord, be with me today." Out the door you went to fight traffic, to listen to your kids quarreling; to deal with a grumpy boss; to leave work late; and finally to fall into bed too tired to sleep! And lucky you, you get to do this all over again tomorrow.
Unfortunately, "Door-Knob" prayers, as I call them, don't do the job when we need to reach down and have our well filled in order to handle what life throws at us. The reason I say this is that I know what I'm talking about for way too often in my past I've tried to get by with "Door-Knob" prayers spoken in the rush of the moment.
When I started taking time each day to "audibly" thank God for the way He has kept me and guided me in the past, something wonderful began to happen. No matter what problem loomed before me in the future, it didn't seem as big or ferocious or unsolvable. All of a sudden, a remembrance would come to my mind. And as I reflected on God's leading in the past, I began to have faith that the same God who guided me this far would not let me down in the future.
One of my favorite texts is found tucked away in the Old Testament book of Lamentations. In chapter 3, Jeremiah traces all the past problems that have come his way, "And I said 'my strength and my hope is perished from the Lord; remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall." Sounds awful. Poor man! Life was horrible! But then something happened to Jeremiah. "My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in Him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him" (Lamentations 3:18-26).
God promises His blessings are new every morning and that if we seek Him, He is good to us. So I ask you, is there any reason you can think of that would keep you from daily reminding yourself audibly of the way God has led you in the past?
When I was growing up, Friday evenings were reserved for what my parents called "Family Council." After supper and the dishes were done, we would sit in the living room and each family member would share the events of their week. I can never remember one of these "Councils" ending without my father saying, "Hasn't God been good to us this week!" It was an audible reminder to all of us that God was good. That He was a faithful Guide. And He would not let us down. Those evenings became the "altars" in the lives of my sister and me that when reflected upon remind us that if God took care of the past, He can handletoday, and He certainly has tomorrow under His control.
"A" - I audibly thank You for the way You have led me in the past.
"Both gratitude for God's past and current mercies, as well as hope-filled expectation of His future mercy are the strongest motives to live for His glory."
I Wish You Enough
"Recently I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport.
They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said, 'I love you, and I wish you enough.'
The daughter replied, 'Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom.'
They kissed and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, 'Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?'
·Yes. I have,' I replied. "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?' 'I am old, and she lives so far away, I have challenges ahead and the reality is - the next trip back will be for my funeral,' she said. 'When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough. May I ask what that means?'
She began to smile. 'That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.' She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and she smiled even more. 'When we said, 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.' Then turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory.
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."
(Thank you to Transformation Garden friend Nancy Wahlman for sending me "I Wish You Enough.")
"She who can give thanks for little will always find she has enough."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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