30-Day Deployment Challenge–Operation Gratitude

When it comes to prayer, how to throw away the negative laundry list

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Posted in , Oct 7, 2014

Journal and pen.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12)

Deployment can throw us into the midst of chaos. If we lose our focus and dwell on that turmoil, it can seem that everywhere we turn, there’s nothing but worry and regret. 

When we lose our focus, we find ourselves living in a sort of no man’s land, stuck between the reality of our current situation and the expectation of normal life when our loved one returns. This type of living can suck the color out of the world around us. Everything, including our attitudes, becomes a drab gray.

Edie Melson's journalOur lives can become nothing more than a laundry list of things we wish were different. The more we focus on what we don’t have, the longer the list becomes. So often my prayer is a reflection of this. It’s a laundry list of things I desire.

I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with praying for these things. But these unchangeable circumstances shouldn’t dominate.

I want to understand and experience what Paul described. I want to know the depth of contentment he wrote about. I want to be so confident in God’s provision that I can face anything with peace and thanksgiving.

I discovered the only way to do this was to let God change my focus. I had a choice, either focus on what I wished was happening or use this time to let God show me the meaning of true joy.

During deployments I had to work hard to find joy. That hard work began with my prayer life. I had to move from a list of pleas to a list of thanksgiving. Truthfully, if I spent every second of every day that I have left, thanking God for the way He’s blessed me, I couldn’t cover it all.

I didn’t give up praying for change. But I threw away the negative laundry list. In addition to prayers for a speedy return home and safety while my son was at war, I found things in my current circumstances to celebrate.

I began to keep a deployment gratitude journal. It started when a friend of mine challenged me to find three things every day to be thankful for. I was to record these things faithfully for thirty straight days. After only five days I found my attitude was already changing.

How about you; will you take the 30-day gratitude challenge and turn your pleas into thanksgiving?

I want to understand and experience what Paul described. I want to know the depth of contentment he wrote about. I want to be so confident in God’s provision that I can face anything with peace and thanksgiving.

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