The Apostle Paul laid out an important spiritual principle about prayer in Philippians 4:6: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
In other words, as you're asking God for something, be sure to thank Him for what you do have.
In our church, we make a point of giving "praise reports" before we proceed to "prayer requests."
It's good to get in the habit of saying "Thank You" -- first and foremost to God, our Creator and Provider, for the blessings we have in our lives.
Being grateful is a spiritual principle we can apply to our everyday lives.
Albert Schweitzer is credited with saying: "The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything."
Give thanks for everything?
Have you ever had something happen that irritated you, only to find out later it was a blessing?
Like being delayed in leaving for work and then encountering a multi-car crash that you might have been involved in if you'd left earlier?
Or missing your plane and later discovering something was wrong on the flight?
When those irritations crop up, try this: "Thanks Lord, I know You have everything in Your control."
What about being grateful and thanking the people in your life who have blessed you, helped you, stood by you, loved you, gone out of their way for you?
It's a good habit to get into, not to mention just plain good manners.
I believe it was Norman Vincent Peale who once said: "The gravest sin a person could commit is the sin of ingratitude."
Have you ever sent a graduation or birthday or Christmas check to a relative and received no acknowledgement?
How did that make you feel?
Do you think God also appreciates acknowledgements for the blessings He bestows upon us?
Maybe you made a great effort to prepare a wonderful dinner for your family, and no one even commented, much less cheerfully helped with the dishes.
Or perhaps you worked overtime for your boss to get an important project done, and he never expressed appreciation.
As we go into the Thanksgiving season, let's make an effort to develop a new habit of thanking those who bless our lives.
How can we say thanks?
With frequent hugs and verbal thanks to the parent who provides and cares for you.
By volunteering to do the dishes before you are asked.
With phone calls or written notes to the relatives who remembered your important days.
With raises and bonuses to the employee you don't want to lose.
With 20 percent tips to the waitress who serves you well.
With flowers to the nurses or persons who provided you with excellent care when you were sick.
With a letter of gratitude to the teacher or mentor who made an important contribution to your life.
If you run a charitable organization, by remembering your volunteers with gift certificates for Christmas.
There are endless ways to say Thank You.
Especially to God who gave us life and breath and placed us on this Earth for a purpose.
Andrae Crouch expressed it well in his song, "My Tribute," which says in part: "How can I say thanks, for the things You have done for me? Things so undeserved, yet You gave to prove Your love for me. The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude. All that I am and ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee."
The Rev. Anne Barber is pastor of My Father's House, 7215 U.S. 301 N., Ellenton. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.