Have you ever heard of the paradox of progress? I learned about it in my Psychology of Adjustment class a few years back. The paradox of progress can be explained as such: with progress and advancements also comes more problems and downfalls. In today’s society technology, medicine, and communication are advancing faster than we can keep up. But with this progress comes more problems that we have to deal with such as higher economy and consumerism, which leads to more stress as people work more and society falls behind. As we move forward as a society we create more problems. This is the paradox.
One of the downfalls of our advancements is the loss of hand written notes and letters – this includes thank you notes. Our advancing society is forgetting the concept of gratitude. It is no longer customary for most people to write a nice little thank you card after receiving a kind gesture or gift from someone. Has this lack of gratitude also spilled over into our prayer lives?
Daniel 2:19-23 are a great example of thankfulness and here is why:
Leading up to these verses the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, ordered all of the wise men of Babylon to death because his astrologers, magicians, and enchanters could not interpret a dream he had. When Daniel and his three friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) got word that they too were going to die they pleaded with God for wisdom to interpret the dream (verse 18). That night God revealed the dream and what it meant to Daniel in a vision. After the revelation Daniel praises God and verses 19-23 are his prayer.
During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said:
‘Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.’
Daniel not only pleaded with God for what he needed, but also took the time to praise Him and thank Him once he got it.
During times when we need something we are all too ready to spend time in prayer with God, but do we always remember to spend just as much time thanking Him for answering our prayers? Or have we allowed the paradox of progress to infiltrate our prayer lives? I know I need to do better at taking some time to write “thank you notes” to God for what He does for me.