For the record, this is not a discipline I am claiming to practice every day, most days, or even some days. It’s a concept that has been part of my spirituality, and as a practiced spiritual discipline I think it offers tremendous potential.
Recently, I was part of a panel where I was asked to reflect on cultivating joy through forgiveness and gratitude. As I prepared for my talk, I came across a rabbi who spoke about a discipline of saying one hundred blessings each day.
A blessing is a kind of prayer that does two things: it acknowledges something present and real, and points to its relationship with God and God’s unfolding work in the world.
Saying 100 such prayers in a day seems daunting, even to spiritual types, but I can think of a couple prayers you could say before even getting out of bed.
Thank you, God, that you create life and that you have given me life this day.
Thank you, God, that you open the eyes of the blind and that you open my eyes this day.
During your morning routine, there are several more prayers you could say.
Thank you, God, that you wash the unclean and that you have washed me this day.
Thank you, God, that you clothe the naked and that you have clothed me this day.
Praying like this invariably directs our attention toward being grateful for the small things we often take for granted. It also draws us outward, from mindfulness into openness and action.
Thank you, God, that you clothe the naked. How can I, O God, clothe the naked this day?
Thank you, God, that you feed the hungry. How can I, O God, feed the hungry today?
Thank you, God, that you forgive us our trespasses. How can I, O God, forgive those who have trespassed against me?
Frequent meditation on God’s gifts fills us with gratitude. Frequent meditation on God’s mercy teaches us how to be merciful.
Thank you, God, that you accompany the traveler on the road. How can I, O God, be a companion to others this day?
Prayer thus melts into action, and prayers of blessing grow into acts of blessing.