praying with thanksgiving
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Thanksgiving is such a vital part of prayer, and something I am becoming more intentional about. Too many times I forget to give thanks for all the wondrous ways He answers my prayers — consciously or unconsciously prayed. Those are my favorite moments, when I suddenly realize that the Lord has answered a prayer I never consciously prayed, yet He heard the desire of my heart and answered. Those moments always make me stop; to give thanks and praise Him. I have come to realize that in these small moments, my heart is truly being changed, as I lift up my eyes and reflect on the glory of the Lord.
The thing is, in giving thanks for the answered prayers and for the blessings that God pours on us daily, we grow in faith. As we reflect on the answers for the prayers and petitions we have lifted up and see the goodness of our gracious Father. We grow in our faith and trust God even more to answer the prayers and broken cries of our hearts. We are filled with joy as we meditate on His continuous faithfulness — even when we are faithless and doubting, even when we are on the verge of giving up.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
We cannot give thanks for everything but we can give thanks in everything. This is why thanksgiving is such an essential part of prayer — it changes our perspective as we reflect on the faithfulness and goodness of our Lord. When we see that our sovereign God is in control of everything, it is easy to give thanks in everything. And as we behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, we are the ones being transformed in the process. What beautiful grace this is!
This is also why we can rejoice always — because we have the Lord always. No matter what our circumstances, the Lord is always with us. He will not leave us. Our circumstances changes; life gets hard and we get weary. But God never changes, and therefore we can always rejoice. Not only that, we can always come to Him in prayer — in fact, Paul instructs us to pray without ceasing, to come to Him without ceasing.
Notice the last part with me, though — this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. It might not always be easy to rejoice or to give thanks. It might not always be easy to pray without ceasing. But because it is the will of God for us, we are able to do just that in every situation. It is not that we have to, but that we can do. We can give thanks; we can rejoice; we can pray without ceasing. Surely we will meet God every single time that we do.
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (Colossians 4:2 NLT)
So it is in giving thanks, that we draw close to the heart of God. When we give thanks in everything, we are saying that we trust that the Lord is good. We trust that the thoughts He thinks toward us are to give us a future and a hope; this glorious eternal life with Him. We trust that He works in and through the darkness of our hearts, that He is transforming us day by day. When we give thanks in everything, we are walking by faith.
These small steps of faith and obedience, they turn our hearts towards Christ. We behold His glory as in a mirror, and our hearts are being changed.
When was the last time you said “thank you” to the Lord?
Linking up: Hearts 4 Home, The Single Life, Hearts for Home, Thriving Thursday, Coffee and Conversation, Thoughtful Thursdays, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Quitting Thursday, Essential Fridays, Fellowship Fridays, Faith Filled Friday, Faith & Fellowship, Christian Fellowship Friday