By Michael G. Rayel, MD
I usually put my children to sleep. Routinely, each one takes turn saying prayers before dozing off.
"Dear heavenly Father, thank you for my family and relatives and for all the blessings. Thank you for giving me only good dreams and good thoughts."
As this prayer echoes around the room, it somehow exudes a faint acapella amidst evening tranquility. Since this is about thankfulness for family, blessings, good dreams, and good thoughts, I develop goose bumps. I am amazed on how they came up with it. It's astonishing to know that some kids pray for good thoughts rather than for gold. After all, why would children pray about this seeming unpopular theme?
How many kids do you know who would be thankful for what they have? Most of the kids I know pray for more toys, more money, more food, trips to Disney and McDonald's, new jeans, Nintendo or Game boy. If they don't get new gears and gadgets, they throw tantrums and fits of notoriety.
What makes this prayer so different and yet so special? How can this prayer fight stress?
This prayer is about thankfulness.
Thankfulness is more than just acceptance of things received. Thankfulness is the celebration of life - right now. It is the proclamation of God's bounty as never-ending - that there is more to come. It is the declaration that what is wished for is already achieved.
Thankfulness celebrates not just the good things received, but also the hurts, the pains, the defeats, the losses. By so doing, thankfulness transcends all of them.
This prayer is about peace of mind.
To be thankful is to be at peace with oneself, others, and God. Peace of mind is long-lasting and is the gateway to eternity. It goes beyond the physical urge of pleasure and greed. Like the early morning mist, it spreads freshness. And like dawn, it provides a glimpse of a new beginning.
This prayer is about having a dream.
We should have good dreams to live life to the fullest. To develop our potential is to live life the way it should be. The essence of life is progress. Life is growth. Life is moving forward to a well-deserved destination. The ultimate dream is to create and have an impact in the world - a legacy. All of us have only one chance in a lifetime to be.
Our society today is alarming. Music, TV shows, and movies celebrate violence, guns, drugs, and sex. Kids and adults emulate tattooed artists in skimpy outfit. With minimal supervision from responsible adults, some kids become violent and highly sexual. Instead of taking pencil and paper in school, they bring guns. Instead of aiming for success and pursuing the American dream, they aim to dominate and pursue a rival gang. Instead of aiming to get a fulfilling job and finishing a higher degree, they aim to get "high."
Sadly enough, some parents don't develop children who are dreamers, but rather they develop kids who become nightmares to society. Verily, children who are deprived of dreams are deprived of their future.
This prayer is about having good thoughts.
By constantly focusing on good thoughts, we leave no room for uncertainty, anger, insecurity, distrust, jealousy, and envy. By dwelling on good thoughts, negative, destructive, and depressing thoughts have no chance to grow.
Good thoughts translate upsets and defeats to challenges, and transform problems and hassles as opportunities to grow. While good dream is the desired destination, having good thoughts is the necessary tool to achieve it.
One time, I was moved by a quadriplegic boy. He just received an award and finished at the top of his class. Before the graduating class, he thanked God for his disability. He prayed:
"Dear God. Thank you for what I am. If I had strong muscles and legs like the others, I could have been playing Nintendo and running around aimlessly. I would have missed the opportunity to read the Bible daily. I would not have been able to talk to you every minute of the day."
This boy has a lot to be stressed about. But instead of childish and unproductive self-pity, he dared to dream, he pursued good thoughts, he was thankful for his disability, and most importantly, he communed with God.
Let us follow this boy's formula if we want life to be more meaningful and less stressful. Pray constantly for prayer is our sole access to the Great Source of unending peace and happiness. Praise Him regardless of our predicament. Very soon, we will receive endless bliss.
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