The Prayer of Thanksgiving
How can I repay the Lord
for all the good He has done for me?
– Psalm 116:12
Offering thanksgiving prayers is a spiritual discipline we should embrace. At a time in our cultural history when so much is readily available, we find ourselves discontent with everything. Smart phones become outdated in six months. Fashion comes and goes with the seasons. Even our relationships are too-easily traded for something more satisfying. The need for instant and progressively more intense gratification is poisonous to our souls. Christians should live in stark contrast to the never-ending cycle of needing the next supposedly-great thing the world has to offer.
As we move into the holiday season, we should echo the words of the psalmist with our lips and our lives. The goodness of the Lord should be easily recounted. Rather than demanding what is next on our Wish List, we should pause to give thanks for what God has done.
Thanksgiving is the will of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us, “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.“ It is a portion of how we live as a holy people. A lifestyle of thanksgiving sets us apart. It creates a distinct avenue for spiritual maturity and missional witness.
Regardless of circumstances. Daniel lived as an exile in a land of abundance. It is a familiar scenario for us. As Christians, we live perpetually in a Babylon that is filled with the temptations of excess. So when his faith was challenged, Daniel remained true to the Lord. In fact, when his faith in God was outlawed, Daniel responded with gratitude: “When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10). No matter what you face, we can express our thanksgiving to the God who is there, who is powerful, and who is our advocate.
Overflowing. Gratitude seems to be in short supply in a culture that is never content. But we are taught in Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.” Walking in our salvation should create a flood of thanksgiving. As those who have crossed from death to life, it should be easy to be thankful.
Comprehensive outlook. In Ephesians 5:20, Paul wrote, “… giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.“ To be thankful for “everything” seems to be an over-reach. It is not. All of the good gifts of this life come down from our Heavenly Father. There is not a single thing that you have or can accomplish by your own hand. We need to have thankfulness at the ready in all circumstances.
Devotion to gratitude. Knowing that we are given to selfishness and discontent, it is a work that requires discipline. Colossians 4:2 tells us, “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.“ You must persevere and show vigilance in the life of thankfulness. Otherwise, what someone else just bought will become what you feel entitled to have too. Devote yourself to the relationship with Christ and the things of earth will dull in your sight.
In this holiday season, make your thanksgiving prayer more than something that is stated in 20 seconds over a table filled with food. Create an attitude of thankfulness in your heart that you carry throughout your life.