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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Being Grateful

                Recently I realized I needed to do something to improve my spirituality.  I knew that I was not feeling the Holy Ghost as often as I usually do, and I knew it was I who had moved, not Heavenly Father.  I knew that I needed to become more serious about doing the basic things – personal prayer, personal scripture study, service, etc.  I had not stopped doing the “basics,” but I had slackened in my earnestness.  I began once again to spend more time on my knees sharing my thoughts and feelings with God and listening for His counsel as well as more time studying the scriptures.  I felt myself moving closer to Heavenly Father but knew there was more I needed to do. 

One day I was brave enough to ask God what He considered my greatest need to facilitate movement towards Him.  I received the distinct thought and feeling that I needed to be more grateful.  I recognized that I had indulged myself in a “pity party.”  I also remembered that I had failed to write journal entries for several days and, therefore, had not listed any blessings on those days.  I realized that I was feeling negative and being ungrateful simply because I had not remembered to give thanks.

A short time later I received my August 2013 Ensign and opened it to find the message from the First Presidency by President Henry B. Eyring.  I found it very ironic but not a coincidence that his message was on gratitude.  It was a message that I needed and wanted very much.  President Eyring described my feelings exactly:  “God asks that we give thanks to Him for whatever blessings we receive from Him.  It is easy for us to become mechanical in our prayers of gratitude, often repeating the same words but without the intent to give our thanks as a gift of the heart to God….

“How can we remember even a part of all God has done for us?  The Apostle John recorded what the Savior taught us about a gift of remembrance that comes through the gift of the Holy Ghost:  `But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you’ (John 14:26).
“The Holy Ghost brings back memories of what God has taught us.  And one of the ways God teaches us is with His blessings; and so, if we choose to exercise faith, the Holy Ghost will bring God’s kindnesses to our remembrance.”

President Eyring quoted President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) who stated:  “The Prophet Joseph said at one time that one of the greatest sins of which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty is the sin of ingratitude.  I presume most of us have not thought of that as a great sin.  There is a great tendency for us in our prayers and in our pleadings with the Lord to ask for additional blessings.  But sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received.  We enjoy so much.”

President Eyring suggested that we put ourselves in a position to be taught by the Holy Ghost by beginning our private prayers with giving thanks and counting our blessings.  After we have expressed gratitude for a few blessings, we should pause and let the Holy Ghost bring other blessings to our remembrance. 

We can have a similar experience by listing our blessings in our journals.  There are many days I am so tired when I make my journal entry that I cannot think of a single blessing.  Eventually, I remember a blessing and then have an easier time thinking of others.

Again President Eyring quoted a prophet when he reminded us that President Spencer W. Kimball spoke about the “process of inspired writing:”  “Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives.  Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings for our posterity.”

President Eyring suggested that we start writing by asking ourselves, “How did God bless me and those I love today?”  He promised that as we ask this question and listen for the promptings of the Spirit, we will remember our blessings.  He said that we need to “recognize, remember, and give thanks for what our Heavenly Father and our Savior have done and are doing to open the way home to Them.”

I find it very powerful when a prophet quotes another prophet.  The fact that President Eyring quoted two prophets is even more powerful.  I have followed the counsel given by President Benson, President Kimball, and President Eyring.  I know that it works – every time I try it.  It is so easy to have a “pity party” and think “no one cares,” but it is also easy to avoid such negatives by simply being grateful for blessings – even the smallest ones.  I know that we can draw closer to Heavenly Father by recognizing and remembering our blessings and then being grateful for them. 

I have found in recent days that having an “attitude of gratitude” also changed my relationships with other people.  I believe that Heavenly Father was not only telling me that I need to recognize, remember and give thanks for the blessings He gives to me but also the many, many things that my husband, children, grandchildren, and friends do for me.  The simple act of being grateful for what I receive helped me to move closer to Heavenly Father and to feel the Holy Ghost more frequently.  I invite you to count your blessings and see just how many you receive!

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