Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)
I belong to a ladies intercessory prayer group that meets each Tuesday. One morning as we readied ourselves to pray, Ann said the Lord had impressed upon her heart that we don’t spend enough time thanking Him before we begin our petitions. We corrected our order of prayer that morning. This was years ago, yet I remember often what Ann said and how guilty I stand all the time.
Most of us probably fail with the time we allot to prayers of thanksgiving. We have no trouble remembering what we want from God for ourselves, those we love, or those who have asked us to pray. We compile lists and tuck them into our Bibles. We note our needs and desires in prayer journals and faithfully go over each one when we pray. We wake in the middle of the night with some concern and begin petitioning God about the thing that has us anxious. But as our standard with prayer, how good are we at giving thanks? Coming to our Father and spelling out the ways He blesses us every day?
The miracle of feeding a crowd of 5,000 with only five loaves of bread and two fish began with Jesus giving thanks (see Matthew 15:32-39). Let us not miss that first part of the miracle–giving thanks. God was extravagant in His provision that day and He still is today if we provide the atmosphere for such blessing.
What happens when we give thanks? I believe we see our own increase; we see the many ways God pours out the abundance of his love on us.
- The increase could be in simple awareness; we may see what we’ve missed before.
- It could be that God will trust us with more because we are faithful to recognize His grace.
- It could be in seeing that, we know how to progress to another level of receiving.
- It could be in recognizing what we’ve been given and then giving it back to the Lord, He multiplies.
- It could be God blessing us with more because we honor His giving to us.
While developing this blog, I decided to set aside a full day of asking God for nothing; rather,making it a day of remembrance with thanksgiving. It is my custom to pray throughout the day on things that come to mind and when I would catch myself about to ask God for something, I changed the prayer into one of thanksgiving for His faithfulness in the many ways He has taken care of me through the years. I thought on His sure hand of protection, His guidance, and certainly His deliverance. When a friend called asking that I pray for her, I told her of my commitment for the day and we turned her prayer request into one of remembering how God had provided for her in the past and thanked Him for how we knew He would take care of her present need. She was as happy as I to approach God this way.
As my day came to a close, I felt such peace. Through hour after hour of thanksgiving, I had experienced the joy of just loving on God without asking for a single thing. I plan to make this a new design for my prayer life–setting aside a day to do nothing but give thanks–and I enthusiastically invite you to give it a try. I challenge you to do it for one day and see if it doesn’t draw you closer to God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (NAS). May we hasten to be about His will.