Being Grateful With Intent
A few weeks ago I took my kids on a spontaneous trip to the dollar store. (Bless the dollar store.) On the way home all three kids shouted out a "thank you"--a gesture I was so proud of. Until they started whining.
"What are we having for dinner?" "I don't LIKE that!" "I don't WANT to clean my room!" "I want to go to my friends!" "I don't LIKE homework, why do you make us do it?"
All of a sudden those "thank yous" meant nothing. Sure, they were grateful in the moment of holding their $1 toy, but how quickly that gratitude was forgotten when their day (or their dinner) wasn't going exactly the way they intended.
This last Sunday our lesson in Relief Society was about prayer. We talked about the contents of the scripture found in Moroni 7:9.
"And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such." (Emphasis added.)
The meaning is pretty straightforward--praying with intent means if we ask God for something, our hearts need to be in it. We need to do our part, to work at what we're asking for. It shows the Lord that we're serious about our requests. We can't pray for a new job and then spend the day on Instagram instead of searching for jobs. We can't pray for patience with our kids and then allow ourselves to snap first thing in the morning.
But what about the gratitude part of our prayers? What about the things we thank God for? Should we be intent in our gratitude?
It dawned on me that I may treat the Lord's blessings the same way my kids treated their spontaneous dollar store trip. During my prayers I'm most definitely grateful for my blessings, but it seems within hours of thanking the Lord for those blessings I'm inwardly complaining about them.
Do I thank the Lord for my husband but then growl at him when walks in the door after I've had a rough day?
Do I thank the Lord for my kids but roll my eyes as they ask for yet another glass of milk? (Seriously. I have the most thirsty kids in the world.)
Do I thank the Lord for my home but sigh every time my teensy pantry gets overwhelming?
Do I thank the Lord for my health but scowl in the mirror every time I catch a glimpse of my less-than-perfect figure?
It reminded me of the scripture in Matthew 15:8.
"This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."
SAYING that we're grateful but not SHOWING it is just...being grateful in vain. Our lips are expressing thanks, but our hearts aren't in it.
It made me realize that praying with intent includes BEING GRATEFUL WITH INTENT.
Being grateful with intent is more than just thanking the Lord for my blessings. It's SHOWING Him I'm grateful by the way I treat those blessings.
If I'm grateful for my job it means I give that job 100%.
If I'm grateful for our Prophet it means I support and obey his teachings.
If I'm grateful for safe travels during a road trip it means I don't speed the next day. (Self, are you listening??)
If I want the Lord to know that I'm grateful then my actions should show that. My prayers and daily efforts need to coincide. And this is the perfect season to start! As I thank the Lord for my husband I'll also promise to send him a love text. As I thank the Lord for my kids I'll make an effort to not raise my voice. As I thank the Lord for the scriptures I'll make sure to study them that day. I can't wait to show the Lord how I feel about the blessings in my life.
Now, if you need me I'll be GRATEFULLY re-organizing my crazy small pantry.