The Need for Gratitude

The Need for Gratitude

Pentecost 79


Opinions are just that – opinions.  Opinions are attitudes and beliefs; they may or may not be fact.  It is a scientifically proven fact, however, that we have a need for gratitude.  For many, prayer is gratitude.  I always try to write this series from a universal standpoint, not just on the premise that only Christians and other Abrahamic faith believers pray.  When the ancient Greek talked to the oracles at Delphi, one might say they were praying.  The Celt who goes to the fairy ring to seek healing might also be said to pray.  The Wiccan who dances in the moonlight could consider their movement prayer.


Prayer is a request and not all prayers are spoken or whispered.  Some are done through art while others are illustrated with actions.  There is historical evidence of several spiritualities and faiths making prayer a find-raising type of thing.  I would disagree that answer to prayer requires financial investment but I am not about to deny anyone the right to offer what their congregation will accept.


Prayer at its most basic is a dialogue – person to spirit.  Human beings dislike complete solitary.  I firmly believe we have a need for prayer because of that dislike.  We also, in spite of how some act or might claim have an innate sense that we ourselves are not God or gods.  I am amazed and a bit appalled at the number of websites offering to teach one how to pray.  For me, one prays when one thinks the request or note of gratitude.  I never knew there were so many different procedures or steps to prayer.  I think they may be going all the way around the block to take a simple step forward.


Countless studies uphold the idea that human beings are predisposed to believe in deities and religion.  Some might propose that such beliefs serve to unite us, thus eliminating that solitary existence we disdain.  However, a young child who has never been alone will believe in God without ever having been taught about any deity.


Psychologist Thomas Plante maintains that our belief in religion and the accompanying act of prayer helps us to “feel whole”.   “We’ve had this long history of believing that the things of the spirit are in one camp and that science and technology are in another camp,” says Plante, professor and director of the Spirituality and Health Institute at Santa Clara University and president of APA’s Div. 36 (Psychology of Religion). “If anything, this work reiterates that we are whole people; the biological, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual are all connected.”


Why do we pray?  Why did people react to the news of today’s active shooter with flooding the Internet with prayer requests?  Is it because it serves as a type of therapy?  Does it help alleviate our guilt at being safe while others are in danger?  For me, my immediate reaction to pray was something I could do.  Whether or not prayer is therapeutic or perhaps even ridiculous, it is an action we can take.  Sometimes just knowing we have done something positive can be a step on a journey towards peace.


Gratitude can serve that same purpose is helping us find personal and universal peace.  Over the next several days we will discuss ways to practice, show, and live gratitude.  Why is it important?  The person who denies letting him or herself feel grateful is a big, fat bore.  They become narcissistic in nature and demanding, effusive in boorish behavior and spoken attitudes.   They view others as their personal slaves whose only purpose is to make them happy.  The lack of gratitude leads to a sense of being better than everyone else.


The grateful person acknowledges they have a place in creation but so do others.  They realize that they alone are not everything and all powerful.  They see others as contributing and are thankful for that. When learning how to give public presentations, speakers are encouraged to rehearse.  Musicians, dancers, actors, and other performers also spend hundreds of hours practicing.  We need to practice gratitude and during the next several days and posts we will discuss how to do just that.  After all, practice makes perfect and striving to make a minute extraordinary can really be as simple as…”Thank you.”

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