There is a story told of Dr. Alexander Whyte, of Edinburgh, who was famous for his pulpit prayers. He always found something to thank God for, even in bad times.

One stormy morning a member of his congregation thought to himself, “The preacher will have nothing to thank God for on a wretched morning like this.”

But Whyte began his prayer, “We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this.”

I find a similar depth of gratitude in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. The purpose of the parable was to show that one cannot trust in himself for righteousness and should not view others with contempt. The Pharisee filled his prayer with telling God that he was a better man than other people because he fasted and tithed. His standard of righteousness was other people. As long as he was better than them, he was OK. He said that he was better than that tax collector over there.

The tax collector had a totally different perspective. The tax collector used God as his measure of righteousness. And when you use God as your standard of righteousness, your prayers will sound more like the tax collector’s than the Pharisee’s. When the tax collector prayed, he threw himself on the mercy of this righteous God to Whom he prayed.

Sometimes our prayers get very involved with us and the things that we need, and not nearly as involved with God and the people He wants us to be each day. Let me say, it is not a bad thing to pray for the things that you need, but prayer is not supposed to be a wish list like children will be sending to Santa Claus. God wants to hear the things that we need, but our needs had better not outweigh our thanks.

Sometimes it is hard to be thankful. When we don’t take the time to be thankful to others, it is easy to only thank ourselves. Our thankfulness will always go somewhere. The question is who will get it. Do we ever thank ourselves for things like the Pharisee did? This is a dangerous mentality when we take time to pray (and difficult to maintain when our prayers grow deeper). But perhaps we can think more like Dr. Alexander Whyte.

Let us remember to be thankful in the storms as well as the sun. Thank Him when we have and when we don’t have. When we need and when we don’t need. When we laugh and when we cry. Sickness and health. Hope and distress. Pleasure and pain.

Thanksgiving is not just a day on the fourth Thursday of the 11th month. Thanksgiving, for the follower of Christ, is a way of life.

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