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Giving Thanks

Church of the Resurrection blog:

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

The GPS tip for today is "Learn Prayers of Gratitude." Ask a room of people if they have ever been grateful for anything and every hand in the room shoots up. The face of a loved one, a good night’s sleep or a thrilling sunrise can fill us with gratitude if when we pause to pay attention. Gratitude gives us eyes to see blessings in each ordinary moment.

There is something about gratitude that is deeply embedded in the human experience regardless of background or religion, perhaps a universal experience at some point in every life. Could it be that gratitude is built in to the human species so that we can turn our hearts to the generous work of God all around us?

Neuroscience is discovering another apparent built-in mechanism of the human species: when we think grateful thoughts, we are more likely to see more things that make us grateful, strengthening neuro-pathways of gratitude that give us grateful “eyes to see” the world around us. Gratitude cultivates more gratitude.

Ask yourself: What am I grateful for right now, in this moment? You know the answer. You don’t have to look to someone else in order to know what you are grateful for. Your own grateful heart is itself a simple and powerful source of prayer. Pause for deep listening to gratitude and authentic prayer will follow. As gratitude rises in your heart, let it fill your whole being and overflow into the world. This is a prayer of gratitude, pure and simple.

Come, let’s sing out loud to the Lord! Let’s raise a joyful shout to the rock of our salvation! (Psalm 95: 1)

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