Over many decades and through many life chapters, I have witnessed and experienced the power of gratitude. Feeling grateful is an essential aspect of prayer in Christian Science. I like to think of the connection between gratitude and prayer as analogous to supercharging a race car engine in order to magnify its horsepower. Gratitude can supercharge our prayers and open the way to permanent healing and liberating progress.
Christ Jesus exemplified how gratitude facilitates and enhances our prayers. Many of Jesus’ most powerful demonstrations of God’s power, including feeding the four thousand and raising Lazarus from death, were accompanied by deep expressions of thankfulness. Throughout his career on earth, Jesus embodied intrinsic gratitude toward his Father. He showed how thankfulness arrests doubt or uncertainty and inspires more heartfelt prayer and a greater willingness to accept God’s ever-present goodness.
A truly grateful heart is protected from the influence of human will. Personal will or any other self-centered influence has no part in true Christian healing, but tends to move it beyond one’s grasp. Feeling genuine gratitude for God involves surrendering self-will and letting the divine energy of God, of Truth and Love, govern and shape our lives.
Gratitude can supercharge our prayers and open the way to permanent healing and liberating progress.
One of many examples of how gratitude has played a key part in bringing about progress in my life took place when I was a contract engineer, traveling widely and performing mechanical engineering work in many industries. On one year-long assignment, my desk was near the desk of a person particularly known for ill temper toward coworkers and deceptiveness toward supervisors. It made performing my job more challenging, but I determined to maintain tight control of my thinking and hold my thoughts firmly to the spiritual reality of being. In this reality, God is all good, and His creation is totally spiritual and pure.
Mary Baker Eddy writes on page 574of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.” Throughout the year, I learned a lot about patience and how to utilize spiritual sense to see through false character traits—to see the real child of God in an individual despite what he or she may do or say. One Thursday near the end of my planned one-year contract period, this worker was making my experience particularly unpleasant. That evening, as I flew home for the three-day weekend, I was determined to solve this situation permanently.
I focused on being grateful for God’s divine control, acknowledging His authority over my life and everyone’s life.
As I prayed and reasoned spiritually, I came to a clearer recognition that God was in complete control of the situation. I focused on being grateful for this divine control, acknowledging God’s authority over my life, this employee’s life, and everyone’s life. This simple gratitude strengthened my trust in the fact of God’s control; it took the situation out of the realm of clashing personalities and placed it firmly in the spiritual truth of being. I lost the feeling that I was personally responsible for fixing the problem.
I also chose to focus on gratitude to God for already determining my next assignment and putting me in it—even though I didn’t yet know what that assignment would be. God is Mind, and I am Mind’s idea, so every aspect of my life is governed by Mind, which causes me to be grateful for whatever God’s plan holds for me.
Once home, I spotted a local open house for jobs in the weekend paper. Normally I didn’t attend these affairs, but it came to me strongly to update my résumé and go, gratefully knowing that the one infinite Mind was in control of all. This included the assignment I was finishing and the one I wished to start. Gratitude for both pervaded my thought.
The result was an offer of immediate work and an interesting resolution of the current work situation. The worker causing trouble was suddenly reassigned to an area where the work required little interaction with others. This was done even before I returned on Monday to complete my assignment. It was an unusual way for it to work out, but I strongly believe it was the best for everyone and their own individual growth. While I can’t say I witnessed any dramatic character transformation in this individual that last week, I know that genuine prayer never returns to us void—even when we can’t immediately see all the fruitage.
My new assignment was peaceful and harmonious and much more intellectually challenging. What a change for the better—a change that I have no doubt was brought about in part by active gratitude.
Expressing gratitude in thought and action always supports continuing progress in our lives. Though the challenges we face may sometimes seem daunting, the simple approach of being thankful helps us navigate such experiences with grace and poise, and confidence in a healing outcome.