I enjoy reading American history. I’ve always been especially interested in the Civil War period of our history. There is a true story I read of that time that I share with you today.
After one of the terrible battles of the Civil War, a dying Confederate soldier asked to see the chaplain. When the chaplain arrived, he supposed the young man wanted him to ask God for his recovery; but it was very different. First the soldier asked him to cut off a lock of his hair and send it to his mother, and then he asked him to kneel down and thank God. “What for?” asked the surprised chaplain. “For giving me a wonderful family. Thank God that I am a Christian. And thank God for giving me grace to die with. And thank God for the home He has promised me over there.” And so, the chaplain knelt down by the bedside of the dying man, and in his prayer he had not a single petition to offer to God, but only praise and gratitude.
If the truth be told, most of our prayers to God center around the needs in our lives and the lives of those we know and love. Please understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The Bible clearly teaches us the we should take our needs to the Lord in prayer. We are told in Scripture of the importance of interceding to God on the behalf our others also. But if we are not careful, our prayers soon begin to sound like a grocery list of things we want God to do for us. Every now and then, like the soldier in the story, we ought to just go into the presence of God and thank Him for the things He has already done. Don’t ask for another blessing. Just give Him praise and show gratitude that things are as well as they are. The psalmist said, “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.” In our pain, He deserves our Praise. In the midst of life’s problems, He still deserves out Praise. Even in our dying moment, with our last breath, He is worthy of our Praise.