Monday, November 14, 2011

The Habit of Giving Thanks

It used to be that I felt uncomfortable when eating in public places to pause before starting a meal to say a prayer of thanksgiving. This is what we have been taught to develop a sense of thankfulness for what we often take for granted. And I can say with deep conviction that this habit has been transforming. Far too often we take what we received as if it is our right or due because we've worked for them. True, our efforts produced rewards, some just, some unjust, but nonetheless outcomes that we assume are due entirely to our abilities and industry. Such an attitude can build in us a hidden prejudice against divine contribution and attribute everything to the self. But when events are less successful we blame the outcome on the gods that didn't care, or didn't listen to our pleas. I beg to differ.

I believe that giving thanks help us amend our humility towards what are beyond our control and give credit to the God we believe in who play significant roles in keeping us comforted and provided, often without our efforts and without our knowledge. If we acknowledge the divine involvement in our lives we shall begin to draw upon that spiritual breath to develop a healthy understanding that our bodily needs do come from the spiritual realm. Consider that we don't think along this line but simply to admit that many blessings, even if they come from our efforts, originated from our Creator who love us and want us to enjoy the fruits of the earth.

Giving thanks for the food has become habitual for my family and even the grand children are taught to 'say grace' at dinnertime when all the family members sit down to eat and share the day. Once in awhile I would ask our 4 year old Grace to say a simple prayer which she did rather shyly. Today her mother said she said a beautiful prayer unguided over the weekend. Her little brother Andrew not yet two enjoys holding hands to start the prayer. Of course both can be mischievous or disrupt the prayer I lead but it is the behavior that will be corrected as they grow older.

Giving thanks is not just centered on asking God to bless the food we are about to partake. It is also opportune for me as head of the family to round up the needs of family members, the church, the society, the nation as well as international issues, touching upon them briefly and raising them to God for His concerns. Such a prayer that include elements of intercession help the hearers understand that as we enjoy the food we also care for those who cannot and therefore develop a healthy heart of care for others. When we give thanks we begin to understand that we are very fortunate to have roof, clothing, family, protection, etc that we must not take for granted. So give thanks with a grateful heart. It is a good thing to do.

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