“And, please God, bless Iago…”
My heart sank as soon as the words left my lips.
Last month, I said good-bye to my beloved pet of 21 years. Iago was a tiny, spotted leopard gecko. I know lizards aren’t everyone’s idea of a loving pet, but Iago was something special. He was sweet and yes, very friendly. He loved being held by people, and we developed a high level of trust over the years. For over two decades, he was my constant companion. Losing him was heartbreaking.
Every night, I pray for our family pets. Last night, I had listed all our puppies, when I found myself adding Iago’s name to the list.
“And, please God, bless Iago…”
My breath caught as I realized what I’d done. I suddenly felt awkward, and a little sad. I paused and considered what to say next. My misspoken prayer wasn’t a surprise to God. He’d created Iago. He knew how much he’d meant to me.
In that moment, I decided to turn the prayer around:
“Dear God, thank you for Iago! Thank you for his long, happy life.
Thank you for allowing me to care for him. He was a precious piece of your creation.”
In that moment, I felt a little weight lift. Sadness was replaced by a warm glow of gentle joy.
By turning my prayer around, I found gratitude in an awkward, unexpected moment.
“What other Turnaround Prayers can I say?”
We’re often encouraged to find gratitude in difficult situations, but what I was considering was much more specific - not just “finding” gratitude, but actively thanking God with prayer!
No one has a perfect prayer life. If we’re being honest, we all have prayers that are a little self-centred or potentially inconsiderate of other people. Prayers that start with “Let me get…” or “I want to win…”
We all say prayers that ignore God’s grace or generosity. “Why can’t you just give me…” or “I’m still waiting…” or “That didn’t turn out like I asked for…”
How can I shift the focus of these prayers from my needs and complaints
to a focus on God’s goodness and love?
How can I make these into Turnaround Prayers?
What if I start small?
“God, the fridge is a mess - Thank you, God, for a full fridge!”
“God, that guy just cut me off - Thank you, God, that I have a car!”
“God, the wifi is dragging - Thank you, God, that I have access to technology!”
Now, I’m not trying to be naive or over simplistic. I know there are times when finding gratitude in a situation seems impossible. To say “Thanks” in the midst our pain can feel ridiculous. Trust me, I get that.
But as someone who’s gone through immense tragedy, I can honestly tell you there is always a reason to be grateful. Always. I’m not suggesting you should be thankful for the tragedy itself. Instead, I would encourage you to find something in your surrounding circumstances for which you can offer thanks.
It might be tiny, especially when compared to the magnitude of your pain, but remember: every piece of gratitude is significant. After all, we’re told that we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. Imagine how powerful a tiny seed of gratitude might be to our waning faith!
If we practice Turnaround Prayers with the small stuff, it’ll stretch our prayer muscles.
Eventually, we’ll learn to do it with the big stuff.
The apostle Paul wrote:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What a set of instructions!
Rejoice always (Good times and bad!)
Pray continually (When you feel like it and when you don’t!)
Give thanks in all circumstances (ALL of them!)
As I write this, we’re celebrating our 2nd Thanksgiving in the pandemic.
I can’t think of a better time to pray some Turnaround Prayers.
Here are some I’m lifting this weekend:
“God, I wish we were touring with Infinitely More,
but I’m thankful we can be home with our family for Thanksgiving.”
“God, I felt so sick last week, but I’m so grateful for a negative Covid test.”
“God, the lockdowns are frustrating, but I’m thankful for this time to write and make music.”
Start small, and allow your Turnaround Prayers to reveal God’s grace in every situation.
What Turnaround Prayers can you lift this Thanksgiving?