We have experienced the transforming nature of prayer.
If you have prayed at any length of time in a Moms in Prayer group, you know that it is possible to enter prayer time discouraged, heavy laden and even afraid, and rise up at the end of the hour with a new state of mind.
Prayer transforms us. It moves us from a state of fixation on problems that overwhelm us and redirects our gaze to our good Father and the way that He is working right now. Although my circumstances have not changed, my perspective on my circumstances has.
Recently, while driving to a speaking engagement with a close friend, my heart was in desperate need of transformation. The morning was full of running around, feeding my kids breakfast (yes I know we are out of eggs and your favorite cereal—I’m sorry), looking for parts of uniforms and lost shoes, and packing for my weekend away. I was trying to be present with them, encouraging and fun, but when we arrived at a basketball game and I realized it was team picture day for my daughter Lexie who was wearing the wrong jersey, I was more than frustrated. I was furious. Not furious at her, or her coach, or my family, but furious at myself.
Why couldn’t I get my act together? Not to mention that my failure to get her ready and double check everything would be captured for all time in her team picture. I thought about the other moms who might consider me to be a mess because I failed to remember something important to my daughter. Then, we would have to revisit the whole thing again when my daughter graduates from high school and pictures from major events are chosen for her open house. Yes, I am that dramatic. The mind-spins are usually full of melodrama!
Back to me and my friend driving toward the camp where I’m going to be speaking. I’m dwelling on this mishap from earlier in the day and my attitude is terrible. Sensing my frustration, my friend starts her list of thanks out loud, alphabetically, “A – I’m thankful for Apples. B – I’m thankful for my Bible. C – I’m thankful for Cheerios for breakfast. D – I’m thankful for my Dad. What are you thankful for Lee?” Truth be told, I wasn’t thankful for anything at that moment. I just wanted to stew over my situation. I knew something needed to change in my thinking.
I began to listen to her words and thank God beside her. My mood and mindset shifted.
Soon, I was listing things that I was thankful for as well. “T – Lord, I’m so thankful for your TRUTH. U – Lord, I’m thankful that You love me when my attitude is so ugly.”
Friends, sometimes our hearts have to be led into thanksgiving. This week we have a built-in opportunity to lead the transformation of our families’ perspectives from discouraged and disillusioned to one of praise and gratitude. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity and reminder that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17).
This week, make a garland, or head to the woods for a scraggly branch, or draw a simple tree on a piece of construction paper. Then print the leaves template found here and cut out a pile of leaves. On each one, let’s encourage our family to thank God for the good gifts He has given to them.
Thank you God for my family.
Thank you God for roller blades.
Thank you God for my Bible.
Thank you God for good food (like over easy eggs).
Thank you God for my church.
Thank you God for Moms in Prayer.
The comfort that fills our hearts at the end of one hour in our prayer groups can overflow to the hearts of our children as we begin to cultivate thanksgiving. Let’s not miss the opportunity to pray as families, taking turns to thank God in short prayers for the blessings they have written down.
The Lord is working in our families. Sometimes we just need to have an intentional shift to the piles of good gifts and answered prayers around us.
“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.” Psalm 100:4-5 (ESV)
Share your piles of blessings and trees of thanksgiving by posting photos with #MomsInPrayer
Lee Nienhuis has been married to her college sweetheart, Mike, for 15 years and is mom to four kids. She speaks at Moms in Prayer events and workshops and serves as an Area Coordinator in West Michigan. Lee has interviewed ministry partners such as Steven Kendrick, David A.R. White, Kate Battistelli and many more. People often describe her as passionate, engaging and sincere. It is her firm belief that God’s Word and prayer transform lives.