Cultivating a Grateful Heart
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:7 (NIV)
Have you ever wondered why God wants us to ask for things in prayer? I mean, after all, He knows everything! He knows my first thought in the morning and my last one at night. He knows my frustration when I’m late and stuck in traffic, and the words I’m biting my tongue not to say. When I think I “need” a brownie, He knows I really need a carrot. And I don’t have to tell God I need help keeping calm while trying to get five kids out the door each school morning. So, since He already knows what I’m thinking and what I need, why do I need to ask Him for help?
One reason I believe God wants us to ask for help is that when we ask and God answers, we appreciate His work in our lives in greater measure. If God provided everything we need before we asked, we could easily believe we are entitled to things. And, if we never saw how sweetly God cares for our needs, we might take His goodness for granted. I’ve learned this lesson a few times, but the one that stands out involved grapefruit.
When I was a child, my mother fixed our family breakfast before my dad left to teach for the day, and before my sister and I went to school. Since my dad enjoyed his routine, breakfast usually consisted of bacon, eggs and toast. On a cold day,
I’ll never forget the first time I prepared my own grapefruit. I had moved away from home and was attempting to establish some of my own routines, so I had brought home a pink grapefruit. I cut it in half, grabbed a spoon and prepared to scoop out the individual segments like we had done at home. I planted my spoon at the grapefruit’s thick outer rind only to have the fruit not budge. I tried to saw it out with my spoon, but it was stuck fast. I thought I had purchased a defective fruit. My mother’s grapefruit sections slipped effortlessly onto our spoons!
So I did what every wise daughter does: I called my mother for advice. Imagine my surprise when she told me that before we got to the breakfast table, she had already separated the grapefruit sections with a small, serrated knife. For years I thought grapefruit came like that and was shocked to learn it wasn’t so! It was my mother who did all the work without being asked.
I never appreciated my mother’s work because I never knew she did it! Now I know how lovingly she cared for our needs by performing this time-consuming task. Now I am even more thankful for this small act of sacrifice on her part, which is just one of the many ways she cared for our family.
This is the same with God. If He removed all obstacles and challenges from our lives before we knew about them, we could easily become complacent. We wouldn’t see our need for Him and would think we could manage on our own. Each time we ask for God’s help and see Him answer, we appreciate Him even more. By having us ask, God is teaching us to cultivate a grateful heart, and a grateful heart is a good thing! Even sweeter than a pre-sliced grapefruit.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for allowing me to come to You in prayer and share my daily needs and those deep in my heart. I thank You for caring about me and for acting on my behalf when I pray. Help me to be more aware of Your presence every moment of the day, and to see Your hand in every area of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The Character of God: Understanding His Heart for Us by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer
Living Life on Purpose by Lysa TerKeurst
Identify one way God has cared for your needs today. Thank Him in prayer.
Read Matthew 7:7-11. What is Jesus telling us about God’s character and abilities in this passage?
Since God already knows what we need, what are some other reasons He wants His children to ask for help?
What are some reasons God doesn’t answer every one of our prayers exactly as we pray them?
II Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)
Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (NIV)
Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Thursday, 28 June 2007.