We continue our examination of the 2019 BCP Service of Morning Prayer. Last week we looked at the prayers for mission. Now, as the service of Morning Prayer draws to a close, we pause to offer our personal prayers and thanksgivings to the Lord. The rubric simply says:
The Officiant may invite the People to offer intercessions and thanksgivings.
I cannot stress enough the importance of this action – especially in offering our thanksgivings! It is so easy to focus on what we need, or at least perceive we need, rather than stopping to give thanks to God for all that he has given us!
I’ll never forget a former parishioner, Mac McLane. Mac was a man’s man, an Iwo Jima Marine who was shot, bayoneted, and thought to be dead until one last man checked him and found him breathing. Mac awoke on a hospital transport ship and spent the next several years healing from his physical and psychological wounds. Within a few short weeks of my arrival at the parish, his wife Stevie passed away. Yet every Sunday during the prayers of the people, Mac would never make a petition that wasn’t one of thanksgiving. “Thank you Lord for my 50 years of marriage to my bride Stevie.” “Thank you, Lord for the freedom we enjoy in this country to worship you!” “Thank you, Lord for this beautiful day.”
This is not to say that our petitions to God for help, healing, and forgiveness are not important, they are. This message was demonstrated last Sunday in the parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge. Jesus taught his disciples that we, like the widow, should continue to come back before the Lord to make our requests. Jesus’ point was that our great and good judge will be much more prone to answer the prayers of his adopted children than an unjust judge.
God hears and does answer every one of our prayers, but how much more does it warm his heart to hear our own heartfelt gratitude for all that he has done, does, and will do for us, simply out of his love for us.
Perhaps Saint Paul said it most succinctly in his letter to the Colossians: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)
May the Lord grant each and every one of you that steadfastness in prayer and thanksgiving!