Which comes easier to you, listing needs that you would like God’s help with: or listing praises as to what He has recently done in your life?
Our brains are naturally wired to be concerned about the problems of life: we have to work hard to see all the beauty and wonder and praiseworthy things that God is doing.
Sure we are grateful for things He has done in the distant past, but I find that it is the recent acts of the Holy Spirit in my life that give me the courage to get up and face today.
I led a sunday school class for adult mature Christians a few years ago. I would start by splitting the whiteboard into (praises / requests) and then we would go to prayer. At first the requests side was packed and the praise side was empty. I than posed the question,” Is it that God has not been answering prayers, in which case why ask Him for more? Or do we promptly forget His blessings, in which case why should He answer if it brings Him no glory?” It only took a few weeks to fill out the praises side with current answers to prayer. I guess the problem was lack of observing God at work and remembering.
I suggest to all I meet that they exercise their positive vision, of what God is doing in their lives, by mechanically 1. stopping at lunch, supper, and bedtime and 2. reviewing the previous four hours searching for anything positive. When God shows you a positive, savor it and appreciate it for a moment, let it balance your heart then move on. When you come into trials, the memory of all the good will lessen the impact of the problem and help you turn to God rather than overreact. Then take every opportunity to state appreciation to those around you for their positive acts and to witness to one and all what God has been doing in your life.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Philippians 4:8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
At first being picky positive, may come with difficulty, you may feel that you are belittling the seriousness of the problems in your life by noting and savoring the positives. Or you may worry that, if you became too polyannish, you would not deal with the tasks at hand.
In reality, noticing the positives keeps us from being overwhelmed so that we have more stamina more creativity, hope and willingness to cast all our care on Him and do the little that we can. We have a greater ability to bring God glory by witnessing to what He is doing in our lives. We have greater peace that He can handle the current situation because He has been handling the recent situations.
Our singing and praising Him gains substance from being specific rather than vague. It is similar to the difference between saying to your spouse,”I love you” and saying to them. “I so enjoy and appreciate your dependability, enthusiasm, integrity, creativity etc. as I noticed in how you did _______.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (She was talking to an earthly love, I like to quote her to express my love to Jesus, He likes me to count the ways.)
(JESUS)How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise,
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints -I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -and, if the FATHER choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Suggestions: Things of beauty, interest, feeble efforts, fun, joy, useful, comforting, encouraging, strengthening, helpful,courageous. Has God given you opportunities, opened your eyes to see and heart to pray. Taught you from nature, or His word, or through fellow travelers.