Please & Thank You

The movie Unsung Hero is a true story about a family who lost everything and moved from Australia to the United States in search of opportunity. With six kids and no prospects, the Smallbone family comes together and learns to pray for what they need and give thanks for what they receive. They begin posting prayer requests on the wall of their furniture-less living room. Each petition starts under a sign labeled “Please.” When the prayer is granted, it moves over to the section labeled “Thank You.”

In one scene, a young boy named Luke asks his parents how to spell “cheap.” He shares that his prayer is for God to make things cheaper. Later, we see his older brother discover a discarded newspaper ad in the trash. In the grocery store checkout line, a wide-eyed Luke watches the total on the screen steadily decrease as the cashier enters coupons presented by his brother. This is enough evidence for him to eagerly move the card scrawled with the word “cheap” from “Please” to “Thank You.”

It’s a delightful reminder of how God often works. Sometimes in the jaw-dropping and unexplainable, but most often within the mundane in clever ways we didn’t quite see coming.

“Petition” is such a grown-up word (and don’t get me started on “supplication”), so I love the simplicity of breaking our prayers down to “please” and “thank you.”

I often write down petitions in my journal, leaving space underneath to write down the results. But this idea of writing them on paper and posting them to a wall is brilliant because you can see them all in one place. There is a physical nature to it. 

It was neat to see how the “Thank You” section grew throughout the movie. Even though a few persistent prayers remained unanswered, the mounting evidence of God at work kept hope alive. 

I couldn’t help but think what it would look like if I had a notecard representing every answered prayer I’d ever received. The biggest freeway billboard wouldn’t be big enough to hold them all! And if that billboard was positioned just outside my bedroom window, where I saw it every single day, I can’t imagine ever losing faith in God.

One of the devil’s tricks is to keep us from remembering all the good things God has done for us. The evil one feeds us the lie that our luck has run out, God has grown tired of bailing us out, or that we’ve strayed too far beyond the bounds of His love.

None of this is true, of course.

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

-Psalm 36:5

Maybe it’s worth starting the practice of hanging our pleases and thank yous to God on the wall. 

Or at least imagine a billboard the size of a football field filled with post-it notes of the prayers He’s answered.


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