Category Archives: Prayer Practice

Practice: Saying “Thank You”

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

~Matthew 11:25-30

It is Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, and this month I relied on Jesus’s example to deepen my practice of gratitude. By reading daily both Matthew and Luke’s gospel accounts of Jesus giving thanks to the Father, I sought to be more intentional about actually saying “thank you.”

If you are like me, perhaps you have overlooked the verses in Matthew before the Lord’s “Come to me…” invitation. I have often wondered about the connection between this invitation and giving thanks to the Father, so I finally spent time reflecting on it.

It seems to me, Jesus is able to invite us to be yoked to him because all things have been revealed and handed over to him by the Father. Moreover, the rest we long for is ours because Christ chooses to reveal the Kingdom of God to us. And for that we can give thanks!

What can we learn from these verses about the practice of gratitude? Can weariness be a reminder to remain yoked to Christ’s eternal perspective rather than worry? Can responding to others with gentleness and humility be evidence of our thanksgiving for the Father’s tenderness toward us.

I am grateful for the monthly practice of spiritual direction in which what is hidden is brought to light through the mutual reflection on how God has been at work in my life and the lives of those who come to me for spiritual direction. These moments create a deeper connection with God and bring forth thanksgiving and praise to Father, Son and Holy Spirit!  

Jesus said “thank you” to the Father. In the next few days, what detail(s) can we leave undone in order to reflect on how the Lord has been at work in our lives this past year, month, week, day, hour?  As a result, to whom are we being invited to say “thank you“?

May I suggest, if you are in spiritual direction, take time to give thanks for your spiritual director. And if you are a spiritual director, take time to give thanks for those who come to you for direction. 

Practice: The Serenity Prayer

I love Psalm 133 which paints a picture of precious oil running down one’s face and refers to the joy of covenantal unity. I am not enamored with the idea of greasy hair and the unity I need is of heart, soul, mind and strength to love well, but I can anoint my body with small amounts of oil as a reminder that I am blessed to be a blessing.

About a year ago, I spontaneously began the practice of prayerfully anointing my body with oil* as I say the Serenity Prayer.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can 

and the wisdom to know the difference!

My routine flows something like this:

  • Put a little oil on the inside of each elbow and recite the first line of the prayer as a reminder that serenity and acceptance include embracing what cannot be changed. 
  • Contemplate the next line of the prayer and touch the back of each knee with a little oil, knowing courage requires the humility to bend the knees in prayer seeking ways to change what can be changed.
  • And finally dab the top of each foot with oil asking God for a discerning heart and the strength to walk in wisdom. 

Healthy spiritual practices and prayer bring greater freedom to our lives. The gift of the Serenity Prayer is the hope of living a life of surrender, courage, and discernment. The practice of anointing the body encourages the joy of freely rising up to bless the Lord and be a blessing each new day.

*A roller ball of oil or even lotion are recommended.