Thirty Times Thank You
God invites our prayer requests (Phil. 4:6). He loves to be asked and enjoys being the Giver. But do we thank him too, or do we pray much more than we praise? The biblical call is to "continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving" (Col. 4:2).
When the ingredient of thanksgiving is added to our pleading, the entire flavor of our prayer changes. We don't treat God as a genie in bottle who acts at our bidding, but as a real person we're in relationship with. Recounting his wonderful deeds (Ps. 9:1) breeds trust and dispels our unbelief, because we're reminded of his faithfulness and power.
So what does this look like Monday morning at 8:00 a.m.? How do we avoid our prayer time turning into something that resembles reading our shopping list?
We could develop the habit of praising God first, before we ask for anything. We can make a list of our blessings, both spiritual and material and pray them back to God. Journaling is a helpful means of recording God's answers to prayer. D.A. Carson says, "If you don't spend any time pondering and reviewing what God has done, you should not be surprised you rarely sense that God is near".
Another helpful tool is to set up triggers. I know a man who thanks God for his wife everytime he sees the number 518. Why? Because Proverbs 5:18 says, "Rejoice in the wife of your youth". So whenever he reads 518 on a clock, license plate or mailbox, he is reminded to thank God for the gift of his wife.
One exercise that I've found beneficial is to set aside an allotted time only for the purpose of thanking and praising God. At first it may feel counter-intuitive, but I promise, your heart will overflow with thanksgiving as you begin to dig deep into the storehouse of God's blessings (Ps. 23:5).
Perhaps the following list can get you started.
- God’s character: his holiness, love, righteousness, patience, wisdom, sovereignty, omniscience, omnipresence, power, faithfulness, unchangeability etc. (e.g. Ps. 136:1).
- Salvation from sin and judgment through Jesus' death and resurrection (Col. 1:13).
- God's Word that corrects, exhorts and strengthens us (2 Tim. 4:2).
- The Holy Spirit who guides and comforts us (Joh. 16:13).
- God’s precious promises (e.g. Heb. 13:5; Jam. 1:5; Rom. 8:28).
- Freedom we have in Jesus: no more slaves of sin (Rom. 6:17).
- The glorious future that awaits us with Christ (Rev. 21:1-9).
- Opportunites God gives to share his love and truth (1 Pet. 3:5).
- Our trials because they make our faith stronger (James 1:2,3).
- God listening to and answering our prayers (Jer. 33:3).
- Religious freedom we still enjoy in this country (1 Tim. 2:2).
- Opportunities to invest our money in kingdom work (2 Cor. 9:12).
- Ability to use our gifts and talents for the Lord (Eph. 4:11-16).
- Missionaries, sent into this world to reach the world for Christ (Mat. 28:19,20).
- Unity and harmony in our church (Eph. 4:3).
- Fellowship with brothers and sisters in the Lord (Acts 2:42).
- Ministries of the church and the volunteers who staff them (1 Cor. 12:18).
- The facilities God has entrusted to us (2 Cor. 4:7).
- Spiritual heritage of our church (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
- Leaders and teachers who are faithful to the Bible (2 Tim. 2:15).
- The gift of life (Gen. 1:26,27)
- Our marriage (Eph. 5:22-33)
- Our family (Ps. 127:3)
- Friends who love and encourage us (Heb. 10:24)
- Health and modern medicine (3 Joh. 2)
- A roof over our head, clothes, and food on the table (1 Tim. 6:8)
- The beauty of creation (Ps. 19:1)
- Sufficient income to live comfortably (1 Tim. 6:17)
- That we live in in peace, not in a war zone (Eccl. 3:8)
- The people who shared the Gospel with us before we believed (2 Tim. 3:15
We should not be surprised that the Bible is packed with commands, encouragements and invitations to thank God. This is not only because he deserves it, but because we're prone to forget. So let's give thanks to the Lord with our whole heart (Ps. 9:1)!