Here is a typical dinnertime scene at the Lack household:
We all sit down to our kitchen table. It’s time to pray. Lack boys, start your engines! 3-2-1… “DearGod Thankyouforourfood Jesus’nameamen.” Elapsed time: 1 second.
Sometimes this frustrates me, and I find myself thinking “How thankful can you be if you can’t give God more than a second of your time before you start eating the food He has provided for us?” It does not take long, though, before the Holy Spirit convicts me of displaying the very same attitude, moreover, of modeling an Indy race-style gratitude towards God for my children. I can see a lack of gratitude in at least a few areas in my life:
In our family prayer time: Am I expressing gratitude for who God is and what Christ has accomplished on my behalf on the cross, or does my “thanksgiving” sound more like a redundant list that I repeat without much thought day after day because I am tired and in a hurry? Christ warned us about praying with vain repetition, and He urges us to cast our cares before Him “with thanksgiving.” How can I be frustrated when my unregenerate young boys seem not to express genuine gratitude towards God when I, who am a new creature in Christ, often express lukewarm thanksgiving at best?
In my speech: I have, on many occasions, chastised my sons for not being thankful for what God has provided us. Yet, what do they hear more from me—complaining about the disorderly appearance of our house, or thanksgiving for the comfortable roof over our head? Frustration with work deadlines, or gratitude for God’s faithfulness in providing me with a job? Complaining how tired I am, or gratitude for a comfortable bed and a body that has very little trouble falling and staying asleep?
If you can relate to any of what I have said, be thankful that God is infinitely forgiving, and we can come to Him at any time, in prayer, to thank Him for His forgiveness and to ask Him to help us reflect the new life that He has created in us. I also want to try this: when I find myself complaining, I will stop and think about God’s grace as it relates to the source of my complaint. Then, I will ask Him for forgiveness and thank Him. So…instead of grimacing at my floor that needs sweeping, I will seek to thank God for the floor he provided, as well as the broom and the food that produced the crumbs that need to be swept up.
My God, as I read through this confession ashamed of how poorly I can model gratitude for my children, I am thankful for Your unfailing patience with me. Though I can be woefully thankless in my speech and even in my prayers, You remain faithful. You provided Your Son to die for me, a self-centered sinner. Even my gratitude is a gift from You, and I pray that You will help me to give You the thanks You deserve.