On Wednesday, principal photography begins on my television series. We have a terrific cast. A stunning array of talented writers, designers, and technicians has been working tirelessly. This is the culmination of years of hard work, and of a great deal of sacrifice on the part of Mark, Sara, and Sean. So I have started every day with a prayer that God will help me make the most of this opportunity; I pray particularly that He will help me be a good and positive leader, giving me wisdom, patience, and the ability to handle strong personalities with grace.

Then, earlier this week, as I prepared to pray, I realized I’d been praying out of order: I’d been starting with requests and ending with thanks. That’s backwards. Rather than asking for help and guidance, I need to begin my prayers – begin my day – with giving God thanks for all the gifts He’s given me.

Thanks should always come first, because everything we have comes from God. Putting our requests in front of our gratitude diminishes that gratitude. Putting thanks first also puts our requests in perspective: When we stop to think of all the amazing gifts He’s already given us, we can often see many of our requests are not only less urgent than we thought, but may have actually already been addressed. God, in his omniscient and omnipotent wisdom and love, may have given us gifts that address those requests; we just need to take a moment to reflect and see what He has done, even before we asked.

Let us all work to put thanks first. Let us begin our days by praising the Lord and giving Him thanks for the talents and abilities He gives us, for the opportunities He provides, and for the people He places in our lives who work with us, pray with us, and love and support us. Most of all, may we begin everything we do by thanking Him for His sustaining grace, which makes everything we do possible.

“We give Thee but Thine own, Whate’er the gift may be, All that we have is Thine alone, A trust, O Lord, from Thee.”

William Walsham How, 1858