The earliest memories of prayer I have were the pre-meal repetitions of "God is great. God is good, and we thank him for this food. Amen." Of course, "food" was pronounced so as to make it rhyme with "good"!
Yesterday morning I was reading Psalm 18:1 to my children. Long after they were off to school and I was into my own day I found mind wandering back to that verse: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good." Each time I unexpectedly stumbled over those words as my thoughts raced around my head (almost the way one might trip over the vacuum cord when it gets left out in the hallway) I realized at a deeper level that my desire to give thanks is almost always tied to how well I think God's will for my life matches up with my desires. My heart's version of the verse goes like this: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for my truck has been running three weeks straight without needing to be repaired," or "...for my bank account has enough in it to pay the bills." You get the point.
Are these good reasons to give thanks? Yes, to be sure, but without them I'm still being called by the song writer to consider the pure character of God that is reason in and off itself to give thanks. The very fact of my existence as a creature makes my Creator worthy of thanksgiving. He is the first cause of all things. Everything I experience from Him is all of grace. The creation itself has its roots of existence in grace--undeserved kindness from God. All this is to say that I'm refocusing my thanksgiving motivation on the Lord tonight. Just looking at Him. I'm not looking around, but up, you might say, and am finding every reason to give thanks as I encounter the character of my redeeming King.
Thank you, Lord.