I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased [Psalm 138:1-3 (ESV)]
I came across a book that offers 101 ways to say “Thank you.” It suggested ways to express one’s appreciation for milestone celebrations, business opportunities, help, social events, and assorted gifts. I didn’t think a thank you note for a blender was that much different than one for a vase or candlesticks but, apparently, the author does. There also were chapters devoted to topics like stationery, envelopes, and internet etiquette. One chapter offered a “thank you thesaurus” complete with several “glowing superlatives and energetic adjectives.”
Like the book’s author, I firmly believe in writing thank you notes and, for the most part, still write them by hand. Nevertheless, I find it difficult to believe anyone needs a 160-page book to help them express their thanks. Granted, I haven’t hosted a debutante charity ball nor have I received an ambassador’s invitation to a reception, so I probably travel in a different circle than the author. Nevertheless, if such occasions should arise, I now know where to find the perfect wording for my thanks.
Since the book also included ways to express thanks for opportunities, love, friendship, continued loyalty, for being there and for “saving me from myself,” I thought of prayer and all of the things for which we should thank God. While just about every reason to thank people was covered, the author missed some important ones when expressing thanks to God. There were no sample letters for what Paul might call thorns in the flesh—be they disappointments, illnesses, challenges, difficult people, or pain. After all, we are to give thanks in all circumstances, not just the ones we like!
While some of us may be etiquette-challenged, there’s no official protocol for thanking God. We certainly don’t need a thesaurus or a list of vivid superlatives and adjectives for our prayers. Since God is the one who does the mountain moving, we won’t need the author’s list of “power words that move mountains.” Moreover, we don’t need to know the “do’s and don’ts of using honorifics.” Although we should remember that Jesus does not have the middle initial of “H” and that God’s last name isn’t “Dammit,” simply addressing God by any one of his Biblical names works fine. I do agree with the author that our thanks should be specific; simply saying “thanks for the many blessings” is way too generic for our generous God. Even so, I think God already knows if the pink cashmere sweater looks fantastic with the new beige skirt or that the blender will be put to good use when we make our morning kale smoothie.
There are only two rules about giving thanks to God: first, we must do it! Praise and thanksgiving are to be a part of our lives—at all times and in all circumstances. Second, while our prayers of thanks probably don’t have to be as eloquent as David’s, they should be as frequent and as heartfelt.