Enter His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations. Psalms 100:4,5 Amplified


Monday morning. I slide out of bed in darkness, note fresh snow on the deck when I let the dog out. As I walk to my prayer corner, coffee cup in hand, I realize I have a choice. I can complain about the too-long Daylight Savings Time (which saves no daylight, just rearranges it), about our too-early winter, or…

I can enter His gates with thanksgiving.

Hmmm…I sit in a warm, dry house. My heat came on with the flick of a switch. I sip my hot coffee, brewed with another flick of a switch. I have a kitchen full of food. Hot water at the turn of a faucet.

How many people in the world have none of those things?

Yes, I am blessed…and beyond my deserving. God is, indeed, good. My situation hasn’t changed, but my attitude has. Now I can pray with a receptive heart.

That’s what these verses are about.

God isn’t some sort of divine egomaniac who has to be praised and petted all the time. He knows Who He is; we don’t have to remind Him.

It’s ourselves we must remind–of God’s goodness, His love, His faithfulness, His mercy, His blessings—so we can enter His presence with thanks and praise.

But what of situations deeper and more difficult than a cold dark morning? What of people so overwhelmed they can hardly pray at all?

For instance, we have a cousin who enduring intensive chemo. Horribly sick. Scheduled for a stem-cell transplant from his brother, his doctors hold out every hope for recovery. But right now, gratitude is as far as the moon. I wouldn’t even suggest it to him.

Perhaps this is where we come in. As we pray, we could offer thanksgiving and praise in his behalf: for the medical advances giving him hope for survival, the skilled team taking care of him, the brother whose match will keep him alive, the small flame of faith helping him endure.

For we know, no matter how it seems, his God has not deserted him.

We could be “thankful and say so” knowing someone will have to do it for us someday. For no one escapes suffering in this broken world.

That way we can enter His gates and pass into His courts…together.

FATHER GOD: Help me to give thanks; enter Your courts with praise. And help me pray for those who simply cannot. Amen.

To be published in “Bozeman Daily Chronicle,” October 27, 2019.