Gratitude is a practice where we give thanks for what we have. The practice of gratitude has gotten quite a bit of attention in the last few decades. No matter your religious belief (or even if you don’t follow a religion), you’ll find widespread agreement that taking time to be grateful is a good and healthy thing.
When I was young my parents taught me to say thank you and to show gratitude when I received a gift, a kindness or a favor. I haven’t always applied that lesson to my life very well. Somewhere along the way I started taking things for granted and only saying thank you inconsistently.
An Ancient Example to Give Thanks
In the Old Testament there is a formula, just seven words in Hebrew, that helped to anchor gratitude and giving thanks in everyday life. Repeating these seven words changes your mindset and your heart.
Coincidentally, these seven words are repeated in seven different places in the Hebrew Scriptures. The priests of ancient Israel prayed these words and used them to worship God. They also taught them to the Jewish people so that they would make thanksgiving a part of their everyday life and worship.
Just seven words! But they are rich with feeling and meaning and I want to teach them to you.
How Pray the Prayer of Thanks
Repeat after me: “Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good. His loyal love lasts forever.” If you study that sentence, you might notice there are thirteen English words there. It takes almost double the number of English words to translate or express the thought that Hebrew does in just seven words.
“Hodu YHWH ki tov, ki le’olam hasdo” The first page of scripture tells us about God creating the world, and at the end of every day he says, “It is good.” Why is creation good? Because it comes from a good God!
We give thanks and remember, first of all, that God is good. But there’s more to it than that. Besides creating this world, God has been working with humans from the beginning and one thing is consistent. Even in the face of the most evil or gross human conduct, God responds with hesed or “loyal love.” Hesed is hard to translate, but it arises from longstanding loyalty to a promise. It means the relationship is anchored and will last. God’s loyal love lasts and will not give out. Yahweh is good, and his loyal love doesn’t stop.
You’ll find these same words repeated several times in the Psalms. Psalm 106:1, 107:1, 118:1 and verse 29, and then again in 136:1. Outside of Psalms, we also encounter this prayer in 1 Chronicles 16:34 and in the prophet Jeremiah 33:11. That’s a seven-fold repetition of this temple prayer or lyric.
Thanksgiving Starts with Praise
How do we give thanks regardless of the circumstances, regardless of our personal feelings? Center it in God. “Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good.”
What do we give thanks for? Hesed
We give thanks that God’s loyal love lasts and lasts. We won’t exhaust it or outlast it. God’s love will have the final word.
Repeat these words and commit them to memory. “Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good. His loyal love lasts forever.” As you say them, take a moment to experience your gratitude to God for who he is and how he loves us. Regardless. Over and over.
Share this message with someone else and bless them.
Take just one or two words and meditate on it/them: Give thanks, good, Yahweh, loyal love, forever. There is so much we can do with this short sentence.
Let us know how this message has helped or inspired you.
PS. It’s also Thanksgiving week here in the US. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
From Ron and Angela