Looking Back at what God has Done
Tracking Prayers, Counting Blessings, and Remembering God’s Mercies
One early morning in January ’14, I sat at my desk studying the pennies I had dropped into a little plastic jar sitting near my printer. Pennies of hope, I thought. Hoping they’d turn into dollars, I kind of laughed to myself.
As it has occasion to do, my mind wandered off into thoughts of the things in my life I wanted to see completed in my Christian walk. I began to think of my loved ones and the issues I was praying about in their lives. I glanced back at the pennies. Pennies of hope? I thought, Why not prayers of hope?
I got up and searched around the kitchen for another jar. Reaching way in the back of the cupboard below the sink, I found a plastic jar left over from a Christmas past. Decorated with a big white snowflake, it was almost all I could do to pull it out and bring it to light. After all, it was out of season décor, and it would clash with my other stuff. Oh well, it’s the only jar I can find right now.
Sitting down and thinking about the issues that had come to mind, I began to write prayer requests on a little notepad, and one by one, I dated the notes and dropped them into my newly founded Prayer and Thank You jar. I smiled when the folded up pieces of paper covered the bottom of the jar. Words of hope; prayers of hope.
So there it began. Throughout the year, anytime I would have a special prayer request, or a thank-you to say to God, I would take a little piece of paper, nothing formal, just whatever I could grab at the time, and I would write the prayer down, fold it up, and drop it into my little snowflake Prayer and Thank You jar. I had started writing down and collecting my prayers near the beginning of the year, and decided I would read the little bits of paper at the end of the year, just to see what had happened.
During the rest of 2014, popping a hand-written prayer or a quick thank you note into the little jar became habit, and I gave almost no thought to the words lying inside. The Prayer and Thank You jar became a secret place for me to give substance to my requests, and to share my thanks in times of joy. It’s as if the jar became another meeting place just for me and Him. And just like my ‘regular’ prayers, ones quickly said at a spur of a moment, or those you might call pre-meditated, said in the early morning hours or in the late evening as I was trying to fall asleep, the jar was a place where God was waiting, just for me.
December 31, 2014, rolled around much faster than I had anticipated. I sat at my desk and picked the Prayer and Thank You jar up, looking at its cheesy little snowflake design, realizing how “in season” it was at that point in my life.
I began to open the little pieces of paper one at a time, noticing the date, reading the request slowly, and then marveling at how the prayer had been answered. I separated the papers into two piles. The first for answered prayers, and the second for prayers still unanswered. As I progressed through the notes, I realized that many more of my prayers were falling into the “answered” pile.
When I would pick up a note that was a Thank You, I would almost always smile at the thought of what I had thanked God for, and I would go back in my memories of that day, that situation, and I would thank Him again for allowing me to enjoy those moments again. It helped me to remember the past year with many fond memories.
As I opened the last little piece of paper, I put it into the appropriate stack and sat there looking at the results. On the right, a huge stack of answered prayers and many notes of thanks. On the left, a very tiny stack of unanswered prayer requests. I was amazed to realize that my God, my Father, my Abba Father, had heard all of my prayers and had answered them way beyond my expectations. The little tiny stack of unanswered prayers tugged at my heartstrings. Why weren’t they answered? I wondered. And then I remembered, of course. God’s timing is not my timing.
I left the little pieces of paper on my desk for most of the day, re-reading them and enjoying what I had written. I spent that day, the last of the year, thinking about the requests I had made in prayer, and rejoicing in the mercy of the Lord. And then, right before I went to bed, I took the slips and threw them all in the trash. Tomorrow was going to be a new day. A new year. A new start. It would be a new beginning for my Prayer and Thank You jar. A new day for God’s renewed mercies.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Tracking Prayers and Counting Blessings