About 2 weeks ago I was talking with my youngest daughter, Annabella (who just turned 4), about the importance of politeness—specifically saying “please” and “thank you.” Her two older siblings jumped in with examples and tried to explain it to her. My oldest, Andrew (9), then said “And you should say more thank you’s than pleases.”
You should say more thank you’s than pleases.
It was as if I were hit by a bolt of lightning, I was struck so suddenly and forcefully by the profundity of that statement. The Holy Spirit within me had just shouted a resounding “YES!” I asked Andrew where he had heard that, and he shrugged his shoulders and said he just made it up. Since that day, I have not been able to get his proverb out of my head, and I believe that it was from the Lord. [Sometimes the Holy Spirit within you will echo His agreement with something that your mind has not yet understood—pay attention to these moments, God is handing you a gift, and an opportunity to grow!!]
In my prayer and reflection time that evening, and I asked the Lord about Andrew’s proverb. I examined my own life: do I ask for things (please) more often than I express gratitude for things (thank you)? How about in my prayer life? In a typical prayer time, which do I do more, ask God for things or thank Him for what He’s done? This was an exercise in humility, make no mistake. As I allowed God the Holy Spirit to search my heart, I had to admit that I ask God for more things than I thank Him for, almost every time I pray.
Please don’t misunderstand me here—we should absolutely ask the Lord for things in prayer, the Bible explicitly says this time and again. I am in no way implying that we should ask God for less or do so less often. Rather, that we should thank Him far more that we do.
For many years I have considered myself a thankful person. Gratitude has been a fruit of the Spirit that I’ve always cultivated pretty well. But through the words of my 9-yr-old son, God has challenged me to take my gratitude to the next level.
A few days later, I slipped in some mud in the yard and injured my back. No permanent damage (thank God!), but a lot of pain, stiffness, I couldn’t bend over to put my socks on, etc. I have always found that when I am struggling physically it is far more difficult to remain positive and to express gratitude … so this was going to be a good test!
I’ve been asking God the Holy Spirit to help me in this (necessary!), and He has been faithful. I am now making it a point to thank God throughout the day for everything I can think of. Rather than feeling sorry for myself about injuring my back, I am thanking God that it wasn’t worse than it is. Each day as the pain is less than the day before, I am constantly thanking the Lord for that rather than bemoaning the fact that I’m not recovered yet. I’m still asking for a quick healing, but overall I am trying my best to say more thank-you’s than pleases.
The results have been pretty amazing! By making more of an effort to cultivate gratitude in my daily life, I have found that my attitude has become more positive. My overall mood has improved. It has been easier to say “no” to negative thoughts or responses. My back is also recovering more quickly than the previous times I’ve thrown it out. Overall—I couldn’t be happier with the results of doubling down on gratitude.
I encourage you to open yourself up to the Lord and ask Him to help you cultivate the fruit of gratitude/thankfulness in your life. You will never regret it! And when you watch your inner-life improve right in front of your eyes, thank God for it—and maybe thank my son Andrew too :).