POWER OF GIVING THANKS: THE SECRET TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM |Prayer Reflection for 22nd December

It is not enough to testify (in words alone) to the goodness of God in your life for answered prayers, you need to go further to do something tangible. Even though testimonies are good, there is a need also to give thanks in some concrete way. Just as we feel more appreciated when we receive gifts than mere words of gratitude, sometimes our prayers of Thanksgiving and Adoration should be translated into concrete action, other than testimonies. If you're not clear about this read slowly...

1 Samuel 1:24-28
When Hannah had weaned the infant Samuel, she took him up with her together with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was with them. They slaughtered the bull and the child’s mother came to Eli. She said, ‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’ There she left him, for the Lord.
POINTS FOR REFLECTION
1. Hannah prayed for the gift of a child, and the Lord granted her request and blessed her with a son whom she promised to give back to the Lord if she is blessed. But she didn't stop there. She went ahead to offer as Thanksgiving offering a three-year-old bull and an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, as scripture says, together with her son. What greater Thanksgiving is offering up of life, in this case, a child to God? You may claim it was her promise to God, but that was her only child as at when she made that offering. This is a profound act, isn't it? How many will give up everything they long for talk more of adding other things, even if that is what they will have to live on?
2. Let's take another cue from Mary, mother of Jesus. After hearing the beautiful prophecies about her cousin Elisabeth, she went up to her. After their encounter and confirmation of the prophecies, she testified to God's goodness with the beautiful song- the Magnificat. But did she stop there? No! The Bible says that she "stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home" (Lk. 1:56). She stayed as a sign of gratitude to God- a tangible action that necessarily followed her testimonies expressed in the Magnificat. 
3. Child of God, have you thanked God in a tangible way for the prayers answered or the good things you received. Instead of doing this many begin to rationalize over the beneficiaries of Thanksgiving offerings- the ministers of God- and how they appropriate it rather than focus on the blessings attached to giving thanks. They assume the position of God and start passing premature judgments. Child of God, play your role as God's servant and leave his ministers, He who called them knows how best to deal with their excesses. Focus on your Thanksgiving and the blessings that come with it because gratitude in this manner opens for you more blessings. No wonder Hannah was blessed more with more children (1Sam.2:18-22), and Jesus approves the Samaritan leper who came back to give thanks to God; the Church crowns it up when she teaches the Holy Mass/Eucharist is the Highest and Greatest Prayer because it is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving- a prayer not only in words of praise and testimonies but with tangible gifts of bread and wine offered to God as well.
TASK: Child of God, Thanksgiving prayer (a prayer that involves giving back to God what we have received), is one aspect of Prayer that is less considered today because many feel they don't have enough to spare. Are you also 'hiding' behind this excuse? Read 1Samuel 2:18-22 now and remember the widows' mite. Jesus teaches she gave more than all who have in the temple. Poverty, therefore, is not an excuse to give thanks to God. Everyone can give.

© Fr. SimOne Madu, OSJ 

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