Posted on August 19, 2011


 man in praise

Lord, I Just Wanted To Say “Thank You!”

On September 8, 1860, the Lady Elgin, a crowded passenger steamer, sank off the shore of Lake Michigan near the town of Evanston.  A large crowd of people gathered along the shore to watch the great ship go down.  One of the spectators witnessing this event was Edward W. Spencer, a student in Garrett Biblical Institute.  When he saw a woman clinging to some wreckage far out in the breakers, he threw off his coat and swam out to rescue the drowning woman.  Battling the dangerous waves, he succeeded in getting her back to the land in safety.

With cries of help ringing in his ears, he dove back into the frigid waters hoping to save others from drowning.  He did this not once or twice, but sixteen times more did young Spencer brave those fierce waves, rescuing a total of seventeen persons.  Due to
exhaustion, the hero collapsed and was taken to the hospital.  Ed Spencer never completely recovered from the exposure and exertion of that day.  His heroic actions left him in broken health.  His career goal in pursuing ministry was gone.  Instead he lived quiet secluded life.  Despite this he continued to exemplify the teachings of Jesus Christ in his life.  He died in California at age eighty-one.  In a notice of his death, one paper said that not one of these seventeen rescued persons ever came to thank him.

It’s a good thing I am not God.  Someone once said that the only place a person could find “gratitude” in America was in the dictionary.  Have we evolved so much as a society that we have abandoned one of our most important virtues?  Is it not common for us to see a parent do all they can to provide the best for their child and to see that child take it for granted?  Unfortunately, it is.  Does anything hurt a mother’s heart more than an ungrateful child?  Not likely.

Stories like these leave us shocked with feelings of righteous indignation.  We wonder how people could be so thankless.  Yet, in condemning the seventeen who were rescued we also condemn ourselves.  How many times have we meant to tell someone thank you and failed to do so.  Maybe we were too busy.  Maybe we lost contact.  Or maybe we just forgot all about it.  Whatever the reason or excuse, it still amounts to the same thing- ingratitude.

There is a story about two angels who were sent to earth to gather up the prayers of men in special baskets.  One was to fill his basket with the petitions of mankind.  The other was to gather the prayers of thanksgiving.  Sometime later they went back to the Father’s house.  One had a basket heaped high, and running over, with the innumerable petitions of men.  The other returned with a sad and heavy heart, for his basket was almost empty.  The angel had searched high and low, but the thanks of men could scarcely be found anywhere.

From a human perspective we might wonder why God would answer our present prayers, when we neglected to thank him for answering our last prayer?  The answer is love.  Our loving Heavenly Father God who is gracious in mercy continues to answer our prayers anyway.  Although this love is unconditional it is not to be taken for granted.

One type of prayer the Lord loves is the “Thank You” prayer from a sincere heart.  From our childhood, we are taught it is polite and proper to say thank you for the things people give us.  Should we treat the Lord with any less respect.  If think about it, there are thousands of things if you can thank the Lord for.

Counting the Blessings

Barbara Ann Kipfer wrote a small book called 14,000 things to be happy about.  In this book she recorded all the little things that make her happy.  Her desire in publishing this enormous list of things that made her happy was for the reader to discover “that happiness comes from noticing and enjoying the little things in life.”  Things like air conditioning, disco dancing, Elvis Presley, thick crayons, and The Real Ghostbusters (TV Show) made her list of happiness.  Those are good things to be happy about, but they are more so things that we should thank God for.  We may take the time to thank the Lord for the really big things like the event that happened six hours on a cross one Friday two thousand years ago. Or, the resurrection on Sunday morning.  But what about the little things in life that we may take for granted or simply ignore?  Sometimes the simple pleasures we have in this world are among the greatest miracles that God performs.

 A Lesson from Paul

The essence of heart felt prayer is thankfulness.  Are you thankful?  If not, then look around yourself and realize how blessed you are.  If Ms. Kipfer could find 14,000 things to be happy about outside of God, surely you can find at least twenty things to be happy about in Christ Jesus.  When you rise in the morning thank God for waking you up.  When you breathe in thank God for the air that flows into your body effortlessly.  There are 1,000,001 things to thank God for in nature alone.  Why thank Him for what  we see in nature?  Because Psalms 24:1 tells us that the earth belongs to God and everything in it.  Therefore whatever happiness or blessings we derive from being here on earth is a direct result from God giving those things to us.

That’s why thankfulness is an important ingredient for a truly worshipful attitude in prayer.  In 1st Thessalonians 5:18, the  Apostle Paul says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  If you aren’t sick, did you thank Him for health?  If you are sick, did you thank Him for being alive?  If you have lost your job, did you thank the Lord for having more time to spend with your family?  Have you offered God a prayer of thanks this morning?  Not everyone awoke  from last nights sleep.  Did you think him for being able to see the sun rise?  Not everyone is able to behold the glory of God’s creation.  Did you thank Him for the food you ate?  Not everyone is able to eat whenever they are hungry.  It’s not a matter of  perspective, it’s an attitude of thanksgiving.  “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  By the way everything means just that- EVERYTHING.  The good and the bad…  Sometimes it has to rain for the flowers to  bloom.