Prayer that Opens Doors 2: Thanks
The pattern has been the same with all my grandkids. Whenever someone does something for a child, the parent says, “What do you say?”The correct answer, of course, is “Thank you.”
We humans aren’t naturally grateful and it takes years of training for us to remember to say “Thank you” when someone is kind or helpful or generous to us.
God has observed the same reality. He felt it was necessary to remind us on several occasions to say “Thank you”: …”give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18; also Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 5:20)
Seriously? He wants us to give thanks about everything, always, all the time.
In Part 1 on Prayer that Opens Doors: Praise we had the same response: How can we be praising God all the time? And now, how can we be thanking God in every circumstance?
As with children, practice really helps. And the will to practice, to make it a habit, to grow a truly grateful heart, is not so hard when we like the circumstances of our lives.
When we are healthy, have a good job, delight in loving relationships, have happy children, feel accepted and loved, experience success, receive a desired surprise—all these are easy to say thank you for. The key is to remember who is the giver of all good things and to express gratitude.
But when health is threatened, a job is lost, a relationship is broken, children are making destructive choices, loneliness and rejection abound, success is elusive and all surprises are not desired ones, how can we say thank you?But God asks us to. These truths help to motivate me:
Giving thanks acknowledges that He is God and He is good.
When life circumstances are challenging, and yet I say, Thank You, Lord, I am saying to my heavenly Father, “I know You are God.” I am recognizing that He is El Elyon, the most high God, and He is El Shaddai, the almighty. He is sovereign and over all and in control.
But when life seems unfair, painful, confusing, scary, it is also important to remember that He is good. Just look at these assurances of God goodness:
Jeremiah 32:40-41: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.”
Psalm 34:8: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”Psalm 86:5: ”You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.”
Psalm: 100:5 “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Psalm 119:68: “You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.”
Psalm 145:9: ‘The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”
Giving thanks expresses trust in God.
As we increasingly experience God’s “godness” and His goodness, we find our hearts and minds are more and more able to trust Him.
Fear—of all the uncertainties and concerns of life—erodes our trust. We find it harder to believe that God loves us and wants good for us. Learning to say thank you, even amidst pain and loss, restores our trust. We can go forward with confidence that we know who holds our future—and He knows, He cares and He is able in every situation.
Giving thanks opens the door for God to work.
I’ve found that, when hard circumstances restrain my gratitude, it as though I am holding tightly to the key to my heart and the key to my circumstances. But when I thank God even when I don’t feel thankful, it is like I hand Him the key to that locked door.
With that “thank you” key, He opens my eyes to begin to see the good He is doing, small though it may appear at first. He opens my mind to accept that His goodness will prevail, over time if not immediately. And that key opens my heart to restore trust that this all-powerful God is truly acting in love and compassion for me.
When our son joined our family at almost 10 years old, life had dealt him some hard blows. Gratitude was not in him. We worked hard to teach him gratitude in general and especially toward God, even in hard times.
Slowly “thanks” became part of his vocabulary and even resided in his heart. For many years he worked landscaping and once, while trimming a hedge by a fence with a chainsaw, the saw hit the fence and kicked back against his head, barely missing his eye and leaving a nasty gash.
When I got to the hospital and asked how he was, he said, “It hurts a lot. The first thing I did was call 911. The next thing I did was say, “Thank You, Lord.”
What about you? What is a challenging circumstance you need to thank God in?
C2015 Judy Douglass
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