How I Stopped Asking and Started Thanking ­– by Eliezer Gonzalez

Nov 3, 2015 2736

gratitude_prayerWhat I am going to share with you is very personal. It is about my own  journey; it may not be yours. However, it has been a tremendous blessing to me, and it may be for you as well.

All my life I have never quite understood prayer. I have always understood it intellectually, but never quite in terms of my own experience. Something just didn’t add up.

My mother is a godly woman who is now in a nursing home with advanced Alzheimer’s, having lost her memory. She was in many ways my model of what a Christian life was all about. I owe my mother so much; however, mixed in with all the wonderful things are sometimes things that are unhelpful.

My mother taught me how to pray, and I observed her praying for many years. In her prayers she pleaded with God, begging God with deep anguish of heart, and sometimes tears, for this blessing or another. They were real needs, and she had real faith.

From childhood I never questioned that God would answer my mother’s prayers. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matt 7:7)?

Looking back now, it seems that very few of my mother’s prayers were answered, either altogether or at least how she expected them to be answered. In many ways, my mother’s life was marked by tragedy. By the way, one of the things that she often said was that she be spared from being in a nursing home with dementia. She has been there for years now.

I have realised that in my own prayers, I constantly lay out my needs before God, begging and pleading with him, just like my mother did. It’s as if I think God doesn’t know the situation that I’m in and what I need. It’s as if I have to twist God’s arm behind his back to breaking point, hoping that he will relent and send me something good.

This way of praying lower’s one’s expectation of the goodness of God, and influences all of our relationships for the worse.

Two months ago I was praying and walking, and pouring out my needs before God, and wondering why issues in my life weren’t being “fixed,” when I understood that God was speaking to my heart. He said to me, “If you want your life to change for the good, then don’t ask me for anything, but instead let your prayers only be of gratitude.”

As soon as I heard this, I knew that this was a personal message for me. I know that Jesus does lovingly invite us to lay out our needs before him. However, for me, constantly doing this feeds into a hopeless negativity that ultimately is not of faith. The reason I am sharing this is for the benefit of those whose lives are marked by feelings of worthlessness and negative thought patterns.

Since I have started praying prayers full of gratitude to God, something has “clicked” within me. It’s as if I have broken free of an unhelpful past. It’s as if I have given God “permission” to show me the multi-coloured kaleidoscope of his mercies to me. When I focus on God’s goodness instead of my own needs, it’s as if I can from my heart better appreciate the love of God. It has been a tremendous breakthrough for me.

I am starting to understand what the Apostle Paul said,

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thess 5:18, ESV

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ­– Eph 5:20, ESV

There are chains that are falling off in my life from which you also may need to be freed.

Give thanks to God.

­­– Eliezer Gonzalez

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