Growing up, my siblings and I each had our own special prayer to recite at mealtime. I don’t remember who chose those little sing-songy verses or they how they got assigned to us. Meals didn’t start until dad called on someone to say grace and we all bowed our heads. When it was my turn to offer the blessing, I always prayed this little ditty:
Thank You for the world so sweet,
Thank You for the food we eat,
Thank You for the birds that sing,
Thank You God, for everything.
On Sundays, my brother would usually get the nod because his prayer was short enough to get in between plays of the Packer game: “God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Hut. I mean, Amen.”
I still often find myself rattling off a few generalized “thank yous” that sound like my elementary table prayer.
Thank You for my family,
for my food, clothes and shelter,
and for this good day.
Thank You God, well, You know, for everything.
There’s room for improvement here, but the idea of making a list of everything I’m grateful for is overwhelming. Do I actually put everything on the list? Do I go over the whole list every day? How specific does the list need to be? What if I miss something?
Lately, I’ve been approaching this part of my prayer time a little differently. Instead of thanking God for stuff I have, I’ve been focusing on things He’s done.
God, I thank You for…
- making me in Your image, capable of knowing, loving, serving and enjoying You.
- preserving my life thus far, bringing me through injuries, sickness or troubles.
- Your Son, Jesus, who emptied Himself of His glory for me.
- Jesus’ death on the cross, paying for my sins.
- the Holy Spirit, who helps me to understand Your truth, know Your love, be conformed to Christ’s character, and serve others with Your gifts.
- the Word of God and its wisdom, truth and power.
- the church, especially my congregation and its leaders who help me grow in faith.
- the assurance of salvation, that I can rest in the hope of a future eternity with You.
- the mercies You bestow on me.
- giving and sustaining my life.
- ways You’ve helped me change and break bad habits.
Although this list can also go on and on, I feel like these are the kinds of things for which God most appreciates my thanks. I still wrap it up with the same catch-all phrase: Thank You God, for everything.
In other words —
Thank You God, well, You know, for You.
Let your lives overflow
with joy and thanksgiving
for all He has done.