Pray Prayers of Thanks

David Oatney Blog: Life at 25, Prayer

liturgyEach day, Catholic clergy, religious men and women, and laypeople from all over the world pray the Liturgy of the Hours. These powerful prayers, rooted in the psalms and in Sacred Scripture, move according to the rhythms of the Church’s ecclesiastical year and invite us to bring our petitions to God. I often find when praying the Hours, sometimes called the Divine Office, that I remember people, things, or events that specially need praying for. The Office of Morning Prayer is traditionally called Lauds, and the word means “praise.” If you are anything like me, you probably spend a great deal of your prayer time praying for the personal and collective needs of others or the needs of yourself or your family. I always throw in extra prayers for the bishop, the Pope, my pastor and associate pastor, the sick of our parish and community, and those who are marginalized, isolated, abandoned, alone, or who have no one to pray for them. If I remember, I include prayers for the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the Coptic Pope, and other ecclesiastical leaders, and for the unity of Christians. All of that is good and right and worthy of prayer. But in praying prayers of petition, it is easy to forget how many things we have to be thankful to God for, and how he provides for all of us, sometimes despite our ingratitude.

applesGod provides for us often through the things of the Earth that he has created. I was reminded of this today when my neighbor was kind enough to present me with a bag filled with apples from the tree on his property. The apples will likely be made into apple butter, applesauce, apple juice, or apple cider, which will be food or drink for our bodies. It was a blessing to receive the apples, and I thought it even more of a blessing when I reflected on the marvelous provision God provides us through the good of the earth. We even pray in thanksgiving for this at every Mass when we thank God for the bread and wine that will be consecrated and become the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for through your goodness we have received
the bread we offer you:
fruit of the earth and work of human hands,
it will become for us the bread of life…

and

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for through your goodness we have received
the wine we offer you:
fruit of the vine and work of human hands
it will become our spiritual drink.

Wheat-Field-003God is so good to us that he provides us food and drink from the very soil of the earth. Indeed he is so good to us that he provides from the earth the very bread and wine that will become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. It is easy for us to forget in our prayers to thank God, and certainly sometimes it is all too easy for me. So I’ve made a conscious effort to remember the ways and reasons to thank him. I woke up this morning with the continued gift of life on this earth, a reason to thank God. I had clothes to put on my back, and shoes with which to cover my feet. Thank you Lord. I have a roof over my head, a place to go for warmth and heat, for cool and shade. Thank you Lord. I have a wife and family who love me. Thank you Lord. I have food to eat, no small part of which comes from the earth or its fruits directly to my table. Thank you Lord. I have been given the gift of vocation, and allowed to pursue a calling of service to God and to his people, the Church, thank you Jesus.

Grape_Vines_-_Cliff_Lede_WineryPerhaps you do not know or believe in God, or maybe you have fallen away from the practice of the faith. Perhaps you are reading this and you are angry at God for some reason. I may not have all of the answers you seek, but this much I do know: God loves you. Proof of this love can be found in the very provision that he gives to us every day, whether we love him in return or not. He loves us so much that he often provides for us even when we ignore him or deny him in return-a truly unconditional love.

What of the poor of the world, the marginalized, the oppressed, those who may seem to be unprovided for? God especially cares for them, the Psalms tell us that he hears the cry of the poor. If we fail to do so, we may stand in judgment for that, so remember that God may use our hands to provide for others who otherwise may not have.

Remember to count your many blessings, and when you pray each day, rejoice and thank God for them.