God – I have a dear friend, Ann, who lives in Pensacola, Florida. One day she remarked to me that, “An attitude of gratitude is everything.” Likewise, often I have heard that a grateful heart is a happy heart. But, in life, in the living of it, and in love everyone struggles in feeling grateful and being thankful.
I was fortunate to be born happy, secure, and hopeful. But, others are not so lucky. Some of Your children are like Woody Allen, the actor. A trainer at a seminar I attended referred to Woody Allen as one who is “allergic to hope.” Often, I have to pray for and serve people who are like Woody Allen or Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh. That is a hard place to be for them. Being with them is not a point of light either.
Frequently, in my collaborative divorce and family law practice, I see many husbands and wives who are having a tough time seeing or appreciating the blessings You have given them. Or, appreciating the good qualities of their divorcing spouse, or the loving acts their spouse has done during their marriage, or the nurturing abilities the other spouse has with respect to their children.
Sadly, today, turning on the television and watching the news is generally not a source of good things which uplift us, except for the last 5 minutes of some of the programs. Considering all of the social media which incessantly bombards us, it is very easy to become cynical. To be dubious of the goodness in others. To question the true motivations of others towards their fellow men and women. Cynicism has now given birth to myths as truths or conspiracy theories which seem to spread an even darker view of the humanity You created.
God, this is sad. Because each of us needs to recognize that the life You have given us is a blessing. With prayer, a treasure is waiting to be found in every dark time, whether it’s in divorce, the death of a loved one, illness, the Coronavirus Pandemic, losing a job, separation from a loved, or loss of financial security.
Unexpectedly, in the darkness of an Iron Lung in 1988 I found a treasure of thankfulness with You in prayer.
I had developed respiratory fatigue because of the late effects of polio, more commonly known as the post-polio syndrome. As Dr. Carlos Vallbona placed me in the Iron Lung at TIRR, I struggled to find anything good or to be thankful for. Frankly, after polio, being in the Iron Lung, felt to me like being twice cursed. In the Iron Lung I prayed to have You to show me something, anything to be thankful for. Later, in prayer, I felt grateful to have had an exceptional doctor to care for me. To have had a machine (one viewed earlier as a mechanical beast) to inflate my lungs without me having to expend any effort on my own. Just as I could always depend on You, I could always count on the Lung giving me my next breath.
God, as I prayed to You, I looked up into the mirror above my head. I saw a middle-aged man across the room from me. The man was laying on his back. He had had a tracheostomy and was dependent on a ventilator. God, I then thanked You for me not being completely paralyzed and on a ventilator like him. I asked the man what happened to him. He said that he had worked for a tree company. A tree had fallen on him and broken his back which left him paralyzed from the neck down. Then, to my surprise, he said, “I’ve been looking at you in the Iron Lung. I don’t know how you stand being in an Iron Lung all day. I could never live that way.” I was thankful not to be in his condition. Remarkably, he was thankful not to be in mine. The point is that in each of us that day we found something in our conditions to be thankful for and to thank You for, my God.
So, God, please help all Your children to pray to You. In praying to You may each of us find hope. Something to be grateful for. Something to give You thanks for. Something to be worth living for.
God, please help each one of us to look for the goodness in every one of us. Especially now, for so many of us are having to do so much more with so much less.
God, please help those of us who are skeptical and cynical. Help them to see the goodness in others first and not to first expect others to be their worst selves. If we are each good enough to be loved unconditionally by You, may we find it in our hearts to see the goodness in ourselves and the lives You made possible for us and for our salvation.
In seeing that sacred goodness in ourselves and others, then, perhaps we may give You our most humble thanks and praise. Bad will be transformed into good. Curses will become blessings. The divides between our views of the world and one another will be reconciled with love and thanksgiving.
God, please help us find attitudes of gratitude. Amen.
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.