This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Seeking Wisdom" by Julia Cameron. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What are prayers of appreciation? Who should you show gratitude to?
Prayers of appreciation show gratitude for God, the people in your life, and the things that you have. Julia Cameron, the author of Seeking Wisdom, says showing appreciation can help you realize what’s truly important in your life.
Here are three prayers of appreciation to express your love.
Prayers of Appreciation
Prayers of appreciation are when we express gratitude for the things we have, the guidance we’ve been given, and God’s gifts. Cameron explains that these prayers are important because they bring us feelings of prosperity and abundance that will attract even more positivity and abundance back to us. She elaborates that praying about the things you appreciate helps you believe in the innate goodness of the universe, and the more positive your image of God and the world is, the more positivity and goodwill you’ll receive.
To begin expressing your appreciation through prayer, Cameron suggests observing the beauty of nature. When you observe nature—green grass, vicious snow storms, rumbling rivers—you often enter a state of awe. Cameron says that awe is a great starting point for prayer. Use the energy of awe to express your gratitude for God’s beautiful gift of nature.
(Shortform note: Cameron says that nature can increase your creativity by providing a topic for appreciation prayers. However, other experts explain that nature can increase your creativity alone—without having to pray. They explain that walking in nature can decrease stress levels and rumination while increasing positive emotions and attention. These physiological changes are the brain’s natural way of recovering the prefrontal cortex. And when our prefrontal cortex recovers, we get bursts of creativity, problem-solving, and feelings of well-being.)
Once you’re in the practice of expressing your appreciation, Cameron recommends tying a few specific topics into your regular prayers of appreciation: other people, miraculous events, and experiences of serendipity.
1. Appreciating the People in Your Life
Cameron recommends regularly expressing gratitude for the people in your life as one of the prayers of appreciation. These people can be casual acquaintances or your intimate support system. Ultimately, she says that God sends people into your life for a reason. For example, maybe the cashier at the grocery store this morning complimented your eyes and changed your mood from bad to excellent. You can thank God for that person.
Cameron adds that it’s especially important to express your appreciation for the intimate support system of people in your life—the group of people that you’ve chosen as your family. Some may be from your biological family, and some may be people you’ve met in different stages of your life. These people all have unique gifts that have helped you grow as a person, and they’re people that you can always turn to for support or advice.
2. Appreciating Miraculous Events
Further, Cameron says that you should thank God for miraculous events. These are experiences that teach you an invaluable lesson or change how you see the world. While it might be easier to identify positive events that have helped you grow, Cameron notes that miraculous events can be tragedies sometimes as well.
She elaborates that tragic events often represent significant milestones in our lives. For example, many people have had life-changing epiphanies after traumatic events like losing a loved one, going through a breakup, or becoming seriously ill. Cameron explains that even when we struggle, God provides guidance to help us in the right direction. Cameron recommends writing about an experience that hurt you. What happened, how did you feel, and what did you learn from this experience? In addition, how did God help or support you, and what can you be grateful for?
3. Appreciating Experiences of Serendipity
The last of three prayers of appreciation Cameron recommends is thanking God for experiences of serendipity. This is when things in your life seem to randomly fall perfectly into place. For example, imagine you decide that you want to learn to sing but can’t find an available teacher in town. The next day at the grocery store, you reach for the same carton of milk as a stranger who you learn is a singing instructor, and she invites you to her last open lesson. Cameron says that these events are acts of God—God’s always listening and will send you exactly what you need at the right time.
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- How to channel your spirituality into your creative endeavors
- How to begin communicating with the divine
- The types of prayers you should practice