Discover Prayer (Part VI): Have an Attitude of Gratitude!

Thankfulness is to render gratitude or express thanks for words spoken or actions taken on our behalf. However, to be thankful, we must be able to recognize the giver’s favor, gifts, or promises on our behalf. Realize the Bible is filled with as many as 30,000 different promises from God to us His children. Every day we receive God’s grace (i.e., God’s unearned favor) for the fulfillment of these promises — and yet we often let them go unrequited.

We must learn to give thanks to God in all circumstances.

Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not extinguish the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–19 NET

God is not asking you to be thankful but to give thanks. There’s a difference between feeling thankful and giving thanks. The first involves trusting our feelings, the latter involves trusting God. While our feelings will mislead us, God will not.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5–6 NET)

As we mature spiritually (1), we learn to give thanks to God for all circumstances (Ephesians 5:20).

giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Ephesians 5:20 ESV)

This is because we understand that everything (including bad things) that have come our way can be caused to make us more like Jesus Christ as we turn to God our Father in childlike FAITH (1) trusting Him.

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28–30 NET)

Note those three previous verses are not saying that God is causing all things to make us happy! But rather, all things can be used to fulfill God’s “purpose” of making us Christ-like as we trust Him in “loving” childlike faith. We can demonstrate this trust in God by thanking Him – by faith – that what He has promised is as good as done.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17 NET)
Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2 NET)

Sometimes we have to trust God through difficult circumstances, recognizing that He is sovereign and in control. Even if we don’t immediately see the fulfillment of His promise, it does not mean we will not see it fulfilled eventually.

Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7 NET)
The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NET)
These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13 NET)

Realize, you become like what you think about in your spiritual heart for good or for bad.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you. (Proverbs 23:7 NKJ)
Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints. Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting—all of which are out of character—but rather thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:1–4 NET)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 NET)

If we continually are thankful to God for what He has done, is doing, and will do in our lives, our faith will be strengthened.

For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants—not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”). He is our father in the presence of God whom he believed—the God who makes the dead alive and summons the things that do not yet exist as though they already do. Against hope Abraham believed in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations according to the pronouncement, “so will your descendants be.”Without being weak in faith, he considered his own body as dead (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. (Romans 4:16–20 NET)

When we live a lifestyle of thanksgiving, we communicate to God that we appreciate what we have already been given – no matter how small – causing God to desire to give us more than we can ask or think.

Trust in the Lord and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity! Then you will take delight in the Lord, and he will answer your prayers. Commit your future to the Lord! Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf. (Psalm 37:3–5 NET)
The one who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious—the king will be his friend. (Proverbs 22:11 NET) 
As he was entering a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance, raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went along, they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He fell with his face to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (Now he was a Samaritan.) Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to the man, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has made you well.” ( Luke 17:12–19 NET)
Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, (Ephesians 3:20 NET)

Furthermore, if you continually give thanks to God for everything, you will live a life filled with the contentment that only God gives.

You keep completely safe the people who maintain their faith, for they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3 NET)
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. (Philippians 4:11–12 NET)

We initially were saved by faith that received the grace of God (i.e., His unearned favor),

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9 NET)

We are to live the rest of our Christian lives in the same manner.

Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6–7 NET)

That is, living a life of faith receiving grace which is best demonstrated by a thankful heart!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give him thanks! Praise his name! (Psalms 100:4)

While it is easier to thank God when things are going well; however,  when they are not, we have a unique opportunity to offer up the sacrifice of praise. That is, thanking God when every one of your emotions wants to have a “pity party” is costly – hence the “sacrifice.”

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging his name. (Hebrews 13:15 NET)

Having an attitude of gratitude will keep our spiritual hearts tender towards God.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his loyal love endures! Let those delivered by the Lord speak out, those whom he delivered from the power of the enemy, (Psalm 107:1–2 NET)
Whoever is wise, let him take note of these things! Let them consider the Lord’s acts of loyal love! (Psalm 107:43 NET)

Consequently, we will have a heart through which God’s grace can pour to meet the needs of others and ourselves.  Remember, when the trials come our way, we can either get bitter or get better.  The stones in our path can be either our stepping stone or tombstone.  Therefore, let us stop whining and start winning!

For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, (Jeremiah 29:12–13 NET) 

Some suggestions for living a life of thankfulness to God:

Be humble and focused on God

Those who worship worthless idols forfeit the mercy that could be theirs. But as for me, I promise to offer a sacrifice to you with a public declaration of praise; I will surely do what I have promised. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:8–9 NET)

Be thankful for everyday blessings

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43–48 NET)

Spend time in the Word of God to learn His promises and how He plans to fulfill them in your life daily.

I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire. (2 Peter 1:3–4 NET)

Always thank God in the midst of adversity and trials.

When the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vines; when the olive trees do not produce, and the fields yield no crops; when the sheep disappear from the pen, and there are no cattle in the stalls, I will rejoice because of the Lord; I will be happy because of the God who delivers me! The sovereign Lord is my source of strength. He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain. (Habakkuk 3:17–19 NET) 

(This prayer is for the song leader. It is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.) 

Record blessings in your Bible or a journal and continually reference them when you encounter difficulty.

Then those who respected the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord took notice. A scroll was prepared before him in which were recorded the names of those who respected the Lord and honored his name. (Malachi 3:16 NET)

Express your gratitude publicly.

“Whoever, then, acknowledges me before people, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before people, I will deny him also before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32–33 NET)

Continue God’s cycle of thanksgiving by blessing others in the Spirit of Christ

Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, (2 Corinthians 9:10–11 NET)

Application Prayer:

Heavenly Father set a watch over our mouths to only speak words that build up and not tear down.  Fill our hearts with your joy that our mouths may sing of your wondrous works.  Sing through me Jesus in the multitude of the congregation!  (Based on Psalm 141:3, Hebrews 2:12)

Discover Prayer Series:

(Security, Wholeness, Success)

Then he said to them, “Therefore every expert in the law who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his treasure what is new and old.” (Matthew 13:52 NET)

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Hal has taught the Bible for over three decades. Through an interdenominational ministry dedicated to helping the local church build men for Jesus, Hal trained men, the leaders of men’s ministries, and provided pulpit supply. Before that, he was a Men’s Ministry Leader and an Adult Bible Fellowship teacher of a seventy-five-member class at a denominational megachurch. Presently, Hal desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home.  DOULOS HAL'S TOPICAL INDEX

One Comment

  • SonShine

    How rich and pointed this is. Thanks Hal! Thankfulness is our gift back to God,but we fall far short of this in so many areas. Thanks for the scripture references to draw us back to the one who is the giver of all good things…as James 1 reminds us.
    My heart is overflowing with gratitude to you being part of our blogging team. Your posts are so rich with scripture and so practical at the same time.

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