Prayer Of A Grateful Heart
A Grateful Heart: Daily Blessings for the Evening Meals from Buddha to The Beatles
Copyright © 1994 by M. J. Ryan
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Acknowledgments of permission to reprint previously published material are on pages 263–265, which constitute an extension of this copyright page.
Cover design and illustrations: Christine Leonard Raquepaw
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
A Grateful heart: daily blessings for the evening meal from Buddha to the Beatles / edited by M. J. Ryan.
1. Grace at meals. I. Ryan, M.J. (Mary Jane), 1952–.
Printed in Canada
10 9 8 7 6 5
Daphne Rose Kingma,
who taught me the profound effects
of saying thanks,
Donald E. McIlraith,
whose embodiment of gratitude
is a daily inspiration,
I lovingly dedicate this book.
About the Editor
In relation to others, gratitude is good manners;
in relation to ourselves, it is a habit
of the heart and a spiritual discipline.
—DAPHNE ROSE KINGMA
A couple of days before I was to write the introduction to this book, I was making dinner. Unexpectedly, the water main up the street broke and all water was cut off for several hours. Anyone who has tried to cook with no water knows how frustrating that experience can be.
As I struggled along I suddenly realized what a lesson I was being given.
Here I was, for the previous six months reading every known book (or at least it felt that way) that in any way related to giving thanks, and I had taken completely for granted the miracle of water coming my tap whenever I wanted it! If I could overlook that, what other blessings in my life had I not perceived?
Gratefulness—great fullness, as Brother David Steindl-Rast reminds us, is the full response of the human heart to the gratuitousness of all that is. Truly every single thing we have has been given to us, not necessarily because we deserved it, but gratuitously, for no known reason.And whatever source we believe is the giver—some concept of God or simply the breathtaking randomness of the universe—when we give thanks, we take our place in the great wheel of life, recognizing our connection to one another and to all of creation.
Offering a blessing, reminds Brother Steindl-Rast, plugs us into the aliveness of the whole world.
Howard Thurman once wrote, To be alive is to participate responsibly in the experience of life, and for those of us who are uncomfortable within the structure of organized religion, finding a proper form for that responsibility has not been easy. We've tended to shy away from many of the rituals religion offers and too often have ended feeling disconnected and isolated. It is in the spirit of reconnection that this volume has been created.
That there is a deep hunger for connection—with ourselves, with one another, with nature, with the process of birth and death itself—is no surprise.
What the writers here are offering, from a wide variety of spiritual disciplines and secular perspectives, is the awareness that setting aside time before we eat to acknowledge the blessings in our lives can go a long way to satisfy that hunger.
As I have spoken to people about this book, it is those with young children who've been the most excited. So much of our time is consumed by the details of living; I want to find a way for my family to share the experience of being a part of something greater than just ourselves, said one mother.
With that in mind, the book comprises 365 blessings, both traditional and nontraditional, organized into four sections corresponding to the seasons, and designed to be used in a variety of ways. You may just open it and begin, reading one a day in the order given, using the ribbon to mark your place.
Or you may pick and choose, using the index to find the topics you are interested in. Or you can open each evening at random and read what is offered.I have tried to find selections on every possible human experience and could easily have filled volumes more. But I looked particularly for those that would speak to us all, regardless of spiritual orientation.
Apropos of that, I have taken certain liberties with language, particularly patriarchal language (God almost always is male, particularly in those Christian prayers predating the late twentieth century).
Bobby McFerrin's beautiful rendition of the Twenty-third Psalm on Medicine Man in which he changes all male pronouns to female is my inspiration for this.
I encourage you to try using A Grateful Heart every day as a ritual and see what happens as a consequence.
When was the last time, if ever, you saw anyone at Mc- Donald's offer an expression of thanks (a prayer, a song, a dance) for his or her food? asks Stephen Hyde in an article in The Sun entitled Great Man Going.
“Billions of burgers consumed yet not a solitary act of gratitude, individual or corporate, no festival to honor the bovine being in myth and art and imagination, or to celebrate the annual resurrection of the potato.
How can this be? What kind of monstrous indifference to the taking of life does this suggest? What kind of heinous disrespect for the life that sustains human life? What is the real price we pay for the convenience of fast and plentiful food? Apathy, neglect, isolation? Or it is something deeper, the loss of relationship, of wholeness, of soul?. . .
Once, the rituals of gratitude informed nearly every aspect of human life. Most of these we have abandoned or forgotten. Now, try to imagine this: for every one of those burgers sold, a song raised, a life recalled, a measure of grace restored.
—M. J. RYAN
Gratitude is heaven itself.
Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart.
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be thy praise.
Now may every living thing, young or old, weak or strong, living near or far, known or unknown, living or departed or yet unborn, may every living thing be full of bliss.
How easily we can forget how precious life is! So long as we can remember, we've just been here, being alive.
Un other things for which we have a comparison— black to white, day to night, good to bad—we are so immersed in life that we can see it only in the context of itself.We don't see life as compared to anything, to not-being, for example, to never having been born. Life just is.
But life itself is a gift. It's a compliment just being born: to feel, breathe, think, play, dance, sing, work, make love, for this particular lifetime.
Today, let's give thanks for life. For life itself! For simply being born!
—DAPHNE ROSE KINGMA
My whole being pulsates
with the fire of desire
for our everlasting union.
My very breath is but Yours.
My heart is a limitless beacon
of Your Love.
My Spirit, being Yours,
is the light of the world.
My eyes but radiate and reflect
our Perfect Love.
My very essence vibrates with You
as the harmony of music
not yet heard.
My vision is but Your Love
flowing through me,
seeing only its own reflection.
My only fulfillment is following Your
Directions and Guidance.
My voice, being Yours,
can only bless.
My prayer is but an eternal song of gratitude,
That You are in me,
and I am in You,
And that I live in Your Grace
—GERALD G. JAMPOLSKY, M.D.
You who are smaller than the smallest seed; more beautiful than the rarest gem; Who hold the mountains and oceans in Your hand; Who breathes us
The Power of Gratitude: 21 Verses of Thanks to God
We have so much to be grateful for in this life. Each and every day. But reality is that sometimes constant life demands, struggles, and worries give more room to defeat than to a heart of thanks. Or we forget, in the midst of busyness and pressures, just to pause and give thanks, for all that God has done, and continues to do in our lives.
Sometimes it really is a sacrifice to offer praise and thanks. We may not feel it. We’re struggling. We're weary. Or maybe, we feel He let us down. We think God seems distant, he's far away, or doesn't really care about what's troubling us. Painful life blows and losses might have recently sent us spiraling.
But here’s what can make a lasting difference. We have a choice, every day, to give him thanks.
And with a heart of thanksgiving, we realize that no matter what we face, God doesn’t just work to change our situations and help us through our problems. He does more. He changes our hearts.
His power, through hearts of gratitude and focused minds on Him, releases the grip our struggles have over us. We're strengthened by His peace, refueled by His joy.
God's Word is filled with many reminders of how powerful and vital a thankful heart can be in this world.
The Power of a Grateful Heart, 7 Things It Can Do:
- It gets our eyes off ourselves, and helps us to focus back on God.
- It reminds us we're not in control, but that we serve a Mighty God who is. It keeps us in a place of humility and dependency on Him, as we recognize how much we need Him.
- It helps us to recognize we have so much to be thankful for, even all of the little things, which often we may forget to thank Him for…but they really are the biggest, most important things in this life. It takes our attention off of our problems and helps us instead to reflect on, to remember, the goodness of His many blessings.
- It reminds us that God is the Giver of all good gifts. We were never intended to be fully self-sufficient in this life. A grateful heart reminds us that ultimately God is our Provider, that all blessings and gifts are graciously given to us by His hand.
- A heart of gratitude leaves no room for complaining.
For it is impossible to be truly thankful and filled with negativity and ungratefulness at the same time.
- It makes the enemy flee. The forces of darkness can't stand to be around hearts that give thanks and honor to God. Our praise and thanksgiving will make them flee.
- It opens up the door for continued blessings. It invites His presence.
Our spirits are refreshed and renewed in Him. God loves to give good gifts to His children. He delights in our thankfulness and pours out His Spirit and favor over those who give honor and gratitude to Him.
21 Gratitude Bible Verses of Thanks from God's Word:
“O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” Ps. 95:1-3
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Ps. 100:4-5
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.” Ps. 118:29
“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Ps. 9:1
“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Ps. 7:17
“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Col. 2:7
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Col. 3:15
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Col. 4:2
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phil 4:6
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed the eagle's.” Ps. 103:1-5
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thess. 5:18
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Ps. 107:1
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Eph. 5:20
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.” Ps. 28:7
“I will praise the name of God with song, and shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Ps. 69:30
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; …” Ps. 136:1-5
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:28-29
“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2 Cor. 9:15
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.” Rev. 11:17
“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Rev. 7:12
A Prayer of Gratitude
Thank you for your amazing power and work in our lives, thank you for your goodness and for your blessings over us. Thank you that you are Able to bring hope through even the toughest of times, strengthening us for your purposes. Thank you for your great love and care. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you that you are always with us and will never leave us.
Thank you for your incredible sacrifice so that we might have freedom and life. Forgive us for when we don't thank you enough, for who you are, for all that you do, for all that you've given. Help us to set our eyes and our hearts on you afresh. Renew our spirits, fill us with your peace and joy. We love you and we need you, this day and every day.
We give you praise and thanks, for You alone are worthy!
In Jesus' Name,
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's page,//www..com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also at //.com/debbmcdaniel and //www.debbiemcdaniel.com.
Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
With A Grateful Heart
There’s a picture that made the rounds on the internet some time ago about a Pastor who left what appears to be a snide message on a restaurant receipt.
The message on the receipt reads, “I give God 10%, why do you get 18,” with the tip amount crossed out, and the signature of the Pastor at the bottom.
It’s said that one of the servers at the restaurant posted the picture on a popular social media site, and it made it rounds on the internet.
The picture is often accompanied by several versions of the story. Some explain that the reason the Pastor wrote that note is because the restaurant involved automatically charges an 18% tip, which the Pastor supposedly refused to pay.
Other stories say that restaurant had an automatic tip for large parties, and that the Pastor’s group had tried to get around this charge by asking for separate bills.
There have even been follow-up stories saying that the Pastor had called back the restaurant and demanded all the servers be fired, for allowing that picture to circulate on the internet to begin with.
with many such stories on the internet, the truth is both out there to be found, and also hopelessly muddled, that one really needs to read through quite a bit to get to the truth.
But I’m not here today to share the truth, or to discuss the behavior of the parties involved.
I’m not here to tell you whether or not this really happened, or whether it was really a Pastor who did it, or even what happened to the servers after the event.
What this picture, and the many stories involved, brought to my mind, are some thoughts about giving, and why its really important to give to God what is His due.Now, the issue of finances and what we should do with them can sometimes be a touchy subject. I think that anytime someone tells anybody that they have to do this or that with their money, people become at least wary and defensive. This is understandable; times are tough, and money doesn’t grow on trees.
I also know that some Christians have an issue about the “tithe,” or the 10% that many preach is the mandatory offering we should give as practicing Christians.
Some are very strict about this, ning missing the offering to a sin. Others feel that they should give from what they can afford, whether as much or as little as they can give.
Some snidely say that God doesn’t need 10% – He owns everything!
The Origins Of Tithing
Let’s start by taking a look at where the tithe came from to begin with. Take a look at Leviticus 27:30-33, and Numbers 18:21-28. Though for a better understanding of those verses, you may also want to read the whole chapters as well.
Basically, back when Israel was starting as a nation, God made the tribe of Levi separate from the rest of the people of Israel. They could never own land, and would become the priests and musicians and guards of the Temple of God. God had a plan to take care of the tribe of Levi, however.
First, he asked the people to set aside 10% of all vegetables, fruit and livestock that the land gave them, and told them that this was His portion. He then commanded them to give His portion to the tribe of Levi.
Additional tithes were also set aside so that the nation could not only take care of not only the Levites, but also foreigners, orphans and widows.
So the tithe, as established in the Old Testament, was basically established to take care of those that could not take care of themselves. It was generosity put into law, in order to make sure that everybody in the nation was taken care of. It wasn’t money, though definitely at the time the nation of Israel used currency. Instead it was the basic foodstuffs that allowed people to live.
Another important aspect about the tithe at this time was that God said that it should be set aside for Him. They belong to the Lord, and they are Holy. This is important because not giving the tithe didn’t just mean that the Levites weren’t getting what they deserved and needed, people who didn’t tithe were keeping what was God’s for themselves.
New Testament Tithing
Now in Deuteronomy 15: 7-8, the Bible set a rule for generosity among the people of God.
He said: “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted towards your poor brother.
Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.” God was establishing that generosity was a trait that He wanted in His Kingdom.Jesus Himself repeats this in Matthew 5:42, where He says, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
” You may think, “Wait, does that mean I’m supposed to just lend out everything I have just because people ask it from me?” Think about the man in Matthew 19, to whom Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then, come follow me.”
If this is making your head spin, try 2 Corinthians 9, start from verse 6. God loves a cheerful giver. Or try Matthew 6: 1-4, where Jesus tells people to give in private.
There are also many chapters where Jesus teaches that giving to God does not mean just the 10%, but from what you can, from the abundance in your heart. He even teaches that it’s more than just money, more than just possessions.
God wants all of you: your talents, gifts, abilities and your time, not just from your material wealth.
In Romans 12: 6-8: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
What Does That All Mean?
One of the things that I personally take away from these readings is this: Everything belongs to God. But un the snide way some people say this, this fact makes me realize that my giving isn’t for God’s benefit. It’s already all His. My giving doesn’t make God any richer. Instead, my giving affects myself personally, and those that I give to.
Why should we give? Because we want to recognize what He has given us. Because there are people who need it more. Because Jesus wants us to practice generosity.
Because He wants us to develop a heart that is cheerful in giving. Because He wants us to realize that we belong to Him. Because it’s more than just about giving money, or time, or our abilities.
It’s about showing our gratitude, our love, and our joy in giving.As for the tithe itself, about the ten percent that some people say is required, I want to say that there can be many arguments for and against this.
First off, you won’t find a place where Jesus says to give any amount of money to the Church. In fact, Jesus rarely quantified anything. Forgive your neighbor. Give generously to those in need. Love one another.
But He did say to give generously with a gracious heart.
So what I personally believe is that every Christian give what they can give with a grateful and generous heart. Has God blessed you? Then share your blessings with those who need it to, whatever form or shape it may take. In thanks for the God who blessed you, love for Him and for those He loves, give from what your heart calls you to give.
The Widow’s Mite
To close, I want to share with you one of the most striking verses in Luke 21: “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury.
And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins.
And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all their surplus put into the offering; but she her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”
Give with a grateful heart, whether your abundance or your poverty. God will recognize your heart far more than he needs your gifts.