The lack of genuine gratitude we experience within our souls and even the sense of selfishness we can have in our prayers to God for deeper feelings toward Him can fill us with disgust. It doesn't take much in the way of self reflection to know how unsteady our hearts can be. Are we really sorry for our sins or do we simply want the psychological relief of unburdening ourselves? O'Connor sees both her tendencies towards scruples and utter laxity. Yet, despite these unpleasant truths she can in the end step away from her self concern and self focus and say simply to God "I am thankful." In the end, we have to let go of self conscious shame and take hold of what is greater than ourselves and worthy of our attention.
“You’ve done so much for me already and I haven’t been particularly grateful. My thanksgiving is never in the form of self sacrifice—a few memorized prayers babbled once over lightly. All this disgusts me in myself but does not fill me with the poignant feeling I should have to adore You with, to be sorry with, or to thank You with. Perhaps the feeling I keep asking for, is something again selfish—something to help me to feel that everything with me is all right. And yet it seems only natural but maybe being thus natural is being thus selfish. My mind is a most insecure thing, not to be depended on. It gives me scruples at one minute and leaves me lax the next. If I must know all these things through the mind, dear Lord, please strengthen mine. Thank you, dear God, I believe I do feel thankful for all You’ve done for me. I want to. I do.”
Excerpt From: Flannery O’Connor. “A Prayer Journal.”