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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On Prayer, Positive Thinking, And Gratitude

I remember the first time Jesse asked me to pray with him, out loud, just the two of us.  I almost started giggling as he spouted off what sounded like a very formal, very "church-y", prayer.  He was studying to be a pastor, after all.  When he was done, I asked him if he always prayed like that.  He does.

Maybe that's normal for you, but for me, most of the time, my prayers are big long conversational rambles to God.  I talk about life, about my struggles, about things I hope for the future.  And I make sure to always start with thanks.  

This was not always habit for me.  For a long time, my prayers were mostly my complaining to God about things that had happened differently than I wanted, and wishes for things to change.  And then I read one of those "cute" little quotations that went something like this: "What if all you had tomorrow were the things you thanked God for today?".  I get the idea.  And even though I think the quotation is too broad, the meaning is perfect.

So I start my prayers by thanking God for being my Savior. That's pretty important.  I thank him for my husband, and for each of my children.  And I try to think of a specific thing for each person, whether it's something they did or said, or a new accomplishment, or a lesson they taught me - because they teach me all the time.  There is always something, usually more than one something, to be thankful for, for each one.  

And I eventually move on to general thankfulness for things that happened that day, or requests for everyone to please sleep well tonight, or prayer requests for friends or family members, or whatever else comes to mind.  But the thankfulness comes first.  

Since this happens in bed with the lights out, sometimes I drift off to sleep mid-prayer.  My rambles take awhile, and I am easily distracted by other thoughts.  But that's okay too.  I usually at least make it through my thanks, and even if I don't, God knows my thoughts.

Maybe not everyone reading this is religious.  Maybe you don't pray.  But I think this way of remembering the good things each day, this act of being thankful for specific people, for specific things from that day, is a perfect way to end any day, even the hard ones.  It puts me in a positive mindset for peaceful sleep, for waking up to start a new day at an earlier time than I might like.  It helps me remember that even though things may not be perfect, there is so much good in my life.

My prayers won't ever be mistaken for those recited in front of a church.  They might even make Jesse laugh if he were to listen to them. But they help me focus on the important things, the abundance of good in my life. And they remind me that I am so blessed.

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