Regardless of your religious background, you hopefully heard or even participated in a prayer last week as you prepared to eat your Thanksgiving feast. Offering thanks through prayer is just one of the many ways we can express our appreciation of what God has done for us and provided for us. One of the 10 lepers healed in Luke 17 showed his thankfulness by “shouting” his praise as “He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done.” (verses 15-16)
Can you imagine a scene like this today? Think about a man with a terminal illness leaving the doctor’s office after receiving a clean bill of health, but instead of calling his family to tell them the good news, he runs to their home, shouting praises to God all the way there. This is not a typical response that we see. I know if I was driving by, I would certainly be slowing down enough for him to see the look of confusion on my face. But what if that man was you? After being told you had weeks to live, you are now given a second chance at life. I would like to think I would respond the same way as the one leper who was so moved that he returned to bow at Jesus’ feet in worship.
Andy posed the question on Monday, wondering if the other nine lepers were thankful, even though they didn’t come back to say so. I agree that they were. But appreciation goes one step further than thankfulness, which only the one man demonstrated by recognizing and acknowledging the full worth of the Healer.
There are several ways I enjoy expressing to God my genuine appreciation of him. The first is through prayer, which for me is typically done in private. It is the conversation between God and myself where I tell him everything I am thankful for. It is my handwritten thank you card, if you will. While I enjoy corporate prayer as well, private prayer is one act that I can do anytime, anywhere I am alone. Sometimes I will write down the words, sometimes I will pray out loud in the car, and sometimes I sit quietly and reflect on what God has done. There is no right or wrong way to pray, because it is your private, personal communication that connects you to your Creator.
Another way to express appreciation to God is through song, which in the church world, we typically call worship. To me, the difference between just singing along and actually worshiping is engaging with a song in a way that makes me feel a certain reverence for God, or moves me in a way that I can’t help but praise him. For example, the songs “In Christ Alone” and “No Longer Slaves” have moved me to tears more than once.
I am not saying a song needs to make you cry for it to be considered worship, but experiencing those particular songs causes me to proclaim the wonderful name of Jesus and to thank him for all he has done. If music doesn’t strike you in that way, maybe that isn’t the way you feel most connected to God, and that’s okay. All I’m suggesting is that you give it a try. A friend of mine is admittedly not that into music, but we have both been affected by worship to the point that we have song lyrics tattooed on our bodies as a testament to what God has done for us and a reminder to say thank you to him.
A third, and certainly not final, way to acknowledge our appreciation of God is to give back to him. Acts 17:24-25 states clearly that God does not need anything from us, but he in fact gave everything he had to us. James 1:17 (NIV) says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”
So, you may be asking, what can I give to God, and why would he want it? Beyond the biblical practice of tithing, which asks us to give back to God a portion of what he has given us, there are other ways we can show our appreciation to God. We can give God our time, either through volunteering or simply by the way we steward and share our time with others. We can give God our talents by looking for ways to use our gifts to make a difference at CedarCreek or in our community. We can give God our lives because he is the only reason we are even here.
Who is God to you? What has he done for you? What do you appreciate about him?
What is holding you back from expressing your feelings toward him?
Whatever method you choose to express your appreciation, whether it is publicly or privately, I encourage you to try multiple ways until you find the one that allows you to connect with God on a personal level.
If you haven’t already, set a goal to show your appreciation to God this week. You could try to show it through prayer, worship, giving, or any number of ways. If you need help, ask someone else how they show appreciation toward God, and take that step for yourself.
God, thank you for my life. It may not be the way I would have scripted it, and it may have more villains than heroes; but it is my story, and you wrote it. I appreciate all you have done for me. You gave me life. You gave me all I have. And for that I am grateful. Amen.
This post was written by Ryan Cook. Ryan is an executive director for two Chick-fil-A restaurants in Toledo, so if you see him at church and think he looks familiar, that’s where you know him from. He is married with a son and a daughter. Follow him on Twitter @CookfilA.
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