Prescribing gratitude and prayer as a healing remedy for spiritual and societal problems, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked people around the world Friday to flood social media for the next week with “a wave of gratitude” and to thank God in daily prayer.
President Russell M. Nelson, who helped develop open-heart surgery before retiring to heal hearts full time as an apostle, issued the call six days before Thanksgiving during an 11-minute video posted on his Facebook and Instagram accounts and the church’s main YouTube channel. At the end of his message, he offered a prayer in which he asked God to bless the world with a healing spirit of unity.
The 96-year-old shared the message of hope and healing after speaking about his personal experiences with the Great Depression, World War II, the rise of terrorism and the deaths of his first wife and two of his daughters.
“Over my nine-and-a-half decades of life, I have concluded that counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems,” he said. “No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a fast-acting and long-lasting spiritual prescription.”
President Nelson directly addressed the pandemic, again expressing grief for the lives lost.
“As a man of faith, however, I view the current pandemic as only one of many ills that plague our world, including hate, civil unrest, racism, violence, dishonesty and lack of civility,” President Nelson said.
He called gratitude a therapy for those problems that has been validated by scientists and believers alike. As a doctor, he said he would prescribe two activities to help anyone experience the healing power of gratitude.
“First, I invite you — just for the next seven days — to turn social media into your own personal gratitude journal,” he said. “Post every day about what you are grateful for, whom you are grateful for and why you are grateful. At the end of seven days, see if you feel happier and more at peace. Use the hashtag #GiveThanks. Working together, we can flood social media with a wave of gratitude that reaches the four corners of the earth.”
Second, he asked people to unite in thanking God daily through prayer and said he hoped they would be inspired to follow suit, “pouring out your heart in gratitude for the countless blessings God has given you and petitioning him to heal our hearts, our families, our societies and the world at large.”
“Wilt Thou bless us with a healing spirit that unites us despite our differences,” he asked in his prayer. “Wilt Thou also help us repent from selfishness, unkindness, pride and prejudice of any kind so that we can better serve and love one another as brothers and sisters and as Thy grateful children.”
Friday’s video built on a consistent thread of reassuring messages President Nelson has shared since the pandemic began.
The church has increased the reach of messages shared by President Nelson, who members consider a prophet to the world. Prior to the pandemic, he had visited six continents in his first two years as the church’s president.
Friday’s video had more than 1.1 million views in the first hour. Nearly 270,000 people were waiting on the church’s YouTube channel to watch it before it was posted. Thousands of them checked in with comments to say they were watching from the United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Ghana and other nations around the world.
Tens of thousands immediately began to post using #GiveThanks on Twitter and Instagram. Some of those messages were captured on a new webpage launched by the church, PowerofGratitude.org.
President Nelson’s steady beat of optimism and empathy during the pandemic began in March, when he said in a short video that “These unique challenges will pass in time. I remain optimistic for the future.” He also called for a worldwide fast to pray for relief from the physical, emotional and economic effects of the pandemic. During the church’s April general conference, he blessed listeners with peace and the following month released a video message in which he said, “I love you, dear brothers and sisters, and assure you that wonderful days are ahead.”
In August, President Nelson wrote on Facebook that “the road ahead may be bumpy, but our destination is serene and secure. So, fasten your seatbelt, hang on through the bumps, and do what’s right.”
During the October general conference, he said he hoped people were using “this unique time to grow spiritually” and asked people to turn to Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile, he led the church’s pandemic relief efforts, which became the largest humanitarian project in church history, with 961 projects in 151 countries.
The full prayer offered Friday by President Nelson:
“Our Father in Heaven, as fellow passengers on Thy planet earth, we humbly pray unto Thee. We thank Thee for life and all that sustains life. We thank Thee for the beauties of the earth, for order in the universe, the planets, stars and all things of eternal significance. We thank Thee for Thy laws that protect and guide us. We thank Thee for Thy mercy and loving watchcare. We thank Thee for our families and loved ones who fill our lives with joy.
“We are grateful for all who are striving to combat the COVID pandemic. Please bless them with protection and inspiration. Wilt Thou help us end this virus that has plagued so many of Thy children. We thank Thee for the leaders of nations and others who strive to lift us. We pray for relief from political strife. Wilt Thou bless us with a healing spirit that unites us despite our differences. Wilt Thou also help us repent from selfishness, unkindness, pride, and prejudice of any kind so that we can better serve and love one another as brothers and sisters and as Thy grateful children. We love Thee, our dear Father, and pray for Thy blessings upon us in the name of Thy Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, amen.