The two magic words

by Lt. Colonel Mervyn Morelock –

When we were young parents, we tried to teach our children the importance of the “two magic words.” I was pleased the other day to hear my son and daughter-in-law telling their children (our grandchildren) about these two words. What are they? “Please” and “Thank you!”

Today, too many seem to think that the world “owes” them, and it is not necessary to say please or thank you. The family, the school, the government, somebody, “owes” us and when we do receive, there’s rarely a word of thanks!

I wonder how God feels about that? We are pretty good about one of the magic words. We say, “PLEASE” all the time! “Oh God, please help me pass this test, get the raise, get married. Oh, please get me out of this jam, help me get well,” etc. But isn’t it interesting that we are not so ready to use the second half of the magic words? We say “Thank you, God!” so sparingly.

I heard a very short prayer that I’ve never forgotten. It was at a prayer meeting. He was usually quiet, sullen, brooding—he rarely spoke. Everyone was asked to offer a prayer of thanks. It was quiet for a while, then the silence was broken: “Oh God, I am thankful for life!” His simple prayer was very moving, for he had just survived a massive heart attack.

In our Call to Prayer Ministry we receive and send out hundreds of prayer requests every month. They cover all kinds of needs and concerns. We share these urgent prayer needs with the corps and institutions in the territory by email and record the list over the toll-free SAPrayerline, so that people can call to listen and pray for the latest list of prayer requests. We have over 2,400 people who have signed up to be Prayer Partners. They pray daily for the needs sent by email and through the monthly New Frontier “Tide of Prayer” column.

I was surprised not long ago when one of our Prayer Partners wrote and asked to be removed from our Prayer Partner list. I wrote him to ask why. He replied, “Because I never hear if my prayers are answered, so I guess I should just stop wasting my time!” Whew! I was stunned.

Then I realized that we had not shared the many thank you notes that are received every week! So now, in every New Frontier “Tide of Prayer” column, we start the list with “Praise Reports.” While all the names and specifics cannot be listed, know that God is answering prayer! All the time! Those prayed for are calling and writing––they are so grateful for the prayers of the Prayer Partners.

Recently, the two Arizona ARCs met at Camp Ponderosa Ranch for a retreat. It was announced that there would be an AA meeting around the campfire one night. Now I have to confess that as long as I’ve been a chaplain at the ARC, I’ve never attended an AA meeting! So, since it was dark and my presence would not inhibit anyone, I slipped in to see what it was all about. The men were standing around facing the fire. One man announced. “The topic for tonight is gratitude.” In the few minutes I stood there in the darkness, I heard many men share how thankful they were to be clean and sober, knowing the love and healing of God. Man after man shared in simple, often in awe-struck tones, the miracle that had taken place when they found Jesus Christ. It was a powerful reminder to me of the magic word, “Thank you”!

One of my favorite books in the Bible is Philippians. Chapter four gives new meaning to the magic words: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God!” Hear it? “Please” and “Thank you!”

This Thanksgiving, may we begin to be “Thanks-Living” people, remembering the magic words, “Please” and “Thank you.” Thank God for life, for love, for family, for living in freedom, but most of all, for Jesus Christ who gave himself as a ransom for us all.

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