When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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November 19, 2018
Dr. Hal Brady

The late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, former minister of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, once said, “Do not always ask when you pray, but instead affirm that God’s blessings are being given and spend most of your prayer giving thanks.” What marvelous wisdom! Gratitude is the key to meaningful faith and joyful living.

One of the unique things about the Thanksgiving season is that it is not so filled with hype. It’s just a special time to reflect with family and friends on the goodness of God. Of course, as people of faith, we do this all the time, but as Americans it is good to be reminded at the special season of Thanksgiving.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the context of enormous hardship. The pilgrims were reduced to a ration of five grains of corn a day to keep them alive. There were only seven healthy colonists to nurse the sick. Half of the original 102 pilgrims that came on the Mayflower were dead. But for the remaining pilgrims, it continued to be their steadfast conviction that God would see them through. So they held a special service of worship to say “thank you” to God. Even in all their difficulties they had perceived the grace of God, and they were grateful.

For a number of years, the late Furman Bisher, legendary sports writer and columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote an annual Thanksgiving column on the things for which he was grateful. It was always a meaningful column, giving insight into this noted writer, and I appreciated and enjoyed it very much.

Taking a page from Mr. Bisher, and since this is Thanksgiving, I’d like to list some of the things for which I am grateful. I’m thankful for:
  • A Heavenly Father whose love and faithfulness endure.
  • A special lady dear to my heart that I have lived with nearly 57 years.
  • Eight grandchildren and their parents who call me “Baba.”
  • The unique privilege of preaching from that sacred pulpit and on television.
  • A smartphone when it works.
  • Dedicated men and women who put their lives on the line every day in the name of freedom.
  • Friendships, old and new.
  • Good books and the joy of reading.
  • The privilege of living in the USA.
  • First responders and all those who assist in times of crisis.
  • A piece of key-lime pie, large or small.
  • A church that faithfully struggles with the realities of the day.
  • Politicians who dare to walk and work across the aisle.
  • A challenging Sunday school class.
  • Mistakes and the ability to laugh at them.
  • Doctors who say, “We can treat that.”
  • A mulligan on the golf course.
  • Sweet potato biscuits.
  • Those who keep the law, pick up the trash, deliver the mail, fight the fires and teach our students.
  • The phrase “Go Dawgs.”
  • Folks who know me and love me anyway.
  • Family traditions and get-togethers.
  • Differences that are overlooked.
  • A bill marked “paid in full.”
  • People who remember.
  • A sense of humor that doesn’t take life so seriously.
  • The “common good” that is understood and valued.
  • A special letter from a grandchild.
  • The privilege of writing this column.
  • And all the other things that are far too numerous to mention.
As the psalmist expressed it, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is in me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2).

A Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Dr. Hal Brady is a retired pastor who continues to present the Good News of Jesus Christ and offer encouragement in a fresh and vital way though Hal Brady Ministries (halbradyministries.com).

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