Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) When we pray, thanksgiving should accompany our requests.
Thanksgiving changes our prayers. What happens when we pray with thanks? We’re more positive and joyful. We recognize that God accompanies us in our circumstances and that He arranges our position in life. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Thanksgiving changes us. We’re less negative about our place and position in life while reflecting on our blessings. We also see others in a more positive light. Actor Denzel Washington describes thanksgiving this way. “It is impossible to be grateful and hateful at the same time. I pray that you put your slippers way under your bed at night, so that when you wake up in the morning you have to start on your knees to find them. And while you’re down there, say ‘thank you.’ A bad attitude is like a flat tire. Until you change it, you’re not going anywhere.”
Giving thanks is a spiritual habit. To launch this habit a person may attempt the following.
Daily, you can make a list of things you are thankful for that happened on that day. Taking time to reflect on the events we can easily take for granted is a great way to begin. “I’m thankful for safe travel to and from the grocery store.” “I’m thankful I have money in the bank to pay the bills.” “I’m thankful for my good health which allowed me to go to work.” This will open the door for thanksgiving which deals with specifics. “I’m thankful I was able to have a good resolution to the conflict I was having with a family member.” “I’m thankful I completed that project at work.” “I’m thankful for success this week in losing weight.”
Secondly you can make a list of past events for which you are thankful. In the Psalms we read about the miraculous hand of God in leading Israel out of their slavery in Egypt. “He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered. Egypt was glad when they left.” (Psalm 105:37-38) While some blessings may seem like “ancient history,” they are the foundation stones for the life we’re standing on today. “I’m thankful for my marriage and our children.” “I’m thankful for our home.” “I’m thankful to be living in such a wonderful community, in such a great nation.” And most of all, “I’m thankful for my salvation.”
Express thanks for what God will do in your future. He’ll be answering the desperate prayers you’re praying now during the challenging circumstances you presently face. Remember Jesus’ words, “‘Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?’” (Matthew 6:26) We should be grateful to God that He values and loves us the way He does. We should be grateful that He is listening always. We should be grateful to God for He’s about to do something great in our lives. Actress Roma Downey once said, “A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.” Let’s be thankful!
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.