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The Bethel Prayer of Thanksgiving

 “Thank you, God, for the good times.
 Thank you, God, for the bad times.
Thank you, God, for ALL times.”

by Todd Bradbury

I visited a man before he passed away. He was a farmer, had a family, a simple man who had a deep, abiding faith in Christ.   Towards the end of his life he became bedridden and spent three years in confines of his bed. The bed was located in a small room with a view of the front yard.  He could see one tree and the road where he was able to watch the cars as they passed. This once healthy, energetic, giant of a man spent the last 1,000 plus days of his life in this tiny room. Think about that. What would it be like to not feel a warm, summers breeze, or the sun on your face on a chilly spring day, or be pelted by rain, or to enjoy the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains as the leaves change? Wouldn’t you miss the ability to enjoy the company of good friends around a dinner table at your favorite restaurant, or even to enjoy a routine trip to the grocery store?
As the end of his life approached he began to slur his speech and moments of lucidity were hard to find. Finally there was no more speech, not for several weeks, until one day. One day a pastor dropped by at a time when the pastor knew the man’s daughter would be present. The pastor asked the daughter what she would like to pray for? The daughter, being polite to her dad but not really expecting an answer, said, “Daddy, the preacher is here and wants to know what you want to pray for?”  He hadn’t spoken in weeks, but to the surprise and delight of his daughter and the pastor, the man spoke. This is what he said:  “Tell the minister to thank God for the good times, thank God for the bad times, thank God for all times.”
I’m not sure I’ve heard a better prayer than that one. I liked the prayer so much I borrowed it and have named it the “Bethel Prayer of Thanksgiving.” I want to keep that prayer before us because there is a depth of spiritual maturity in that prayer that is not often heard. How many of us really thank God for the bad times? We should thank God for the bad times because God can use these times to teach us, mold us and shape us. As I think back over my own life I can honestly say that it was in the “bad times” that I learned the most about myself and, more importantly, about our Lord.   I give thanks that we serve a God of redemption, a God who is able to redeem the bad times in each of our lives.

Let’s claim the promise of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

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