The ACTS of Prayer III: Thanksgiving
So far we have covered Adoration and Confession, the first two steps to mindful prayer. It seems that these two steps take the most effort. Adoration can be difficult because it is not in our nature to project adoration outward, rather, it is in our nature to seek adoration of our own. Confession is an especially difficult part of prayer and such a stark contrast to all the praise we give the Lord when we share with him why we adore him. Truly, while He is worthy of our adoration we are in contrast sinners who are NOT worthy of His and that can be a difficult truth to swallow. It is for this reason that they are put first and in this order. We must acknowledge our loving Fathers perfection and glory and only then will we see our sin for what it really is. However, without this acknowledgment we cannot then be thankful for his grace, mercy and endless love.
While thankfulness may seem like an easier step it is deceivingly so. True and pure thankfulness is so much more than just saying "Thank You".
We work hard for the things we have. It is easy to confuse God's provision with our own efforts.
Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans says that ALL things come from God not just the things He gives us above and beyond what we earn. What exactly does this mean?
Say you study really hard for a class. You spend hours and hours hitting the books. You meet with study buddies, ask for help from your teachers and parents. You watch some nerd explain the equations on YouTube and google explanations. Did God give you that passing grade in Algebra? Obviously, you worked for it. You didn't just binge watch Netflix and get a passing grade with no effort at all. Then how did God give you that grade?
Help (study buddies, tutors, teachers or parents)
Health (thank God you didn't get that flu going around!)
Tools like the internet, study material, calculator
Understanding and comprehension. Don't forget God made your brain! Psalm 139:13-14
Does this mean you shouldn't be proud of your achievement? Of course not! But also be thankful and give God the glory for all the things He gave you to make that passing grade possible.
But what if, after all that work, you don’t pass?????
It is easy to be thankful when things are going your way and your blessings are many, but what about when the blessings are few and life is throwing you one curve ball after another? Do you find it easy to be thankful then?
James 1:2-3 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (Think of steadfastness as a combination of patience and determination)
James tells us not to just be thankful when the going is good but when it isn't.
After all that work studying, what is there to be thankful for?
All the same things! God isn't any less God when things don't go the way you were hoping. His provisions were and are still there.
Don't be discouraged by failure, instead realize that although you have the limitations of a human, God's power is unlimited. Don't give up and know that he will never give up on you.
Failure in life is inevitable and necessary! What kind of person would you be if every time you did something it ended in a positive result? What would your reaction be the first time you failed if your whole life you never failed at anything?
Simply put, James says failure builds character? What kind of things have you learned or gained through failure?
Strong will and determination to try again!
The value of help!
Wisdom and discernment
Empathy with others even if our experiences aren't exactly the same.
Courage to try new thing
Have fun no matter what the outcome
It seems as though in failure, we not only have a list of God's provisions leading up to that failure, but we now have added many important things to be thankful for after that failure has occurred.
There is an infinite depth to the things we should be thankful for. Each of us have had different experiences and blessings, therefore, our personal prayer of thanksgiving to God will also be unique. To help you explore all the different ways we can be thankful let's look at some of the different things God gives us.
Goodness and Love: 1 Ch 16:34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Deeds: Psalm 75:1 we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.
Protection: Psalm 56:12-13 I am under vows to you, my God; 13 For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Salvation: Romans 7:24-25 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Provision: Matthew 14:19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
Faith, hope and love between others: 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace: 1 Corinthians 1:4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.
Healing: (Jesus heals 10 men with leprosy) Luke 17:15-16 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Victory over sin and death: 1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
people: 1 Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people
Whether good or bad, success or failure we are commanded to "always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20
Go back over the list we just discussed and think about how they apply to you personally both in good times and in bad. Fill in as many reason's you can think of to be thankful for:
God showed me his goodness and love…
God's deeds have brought about…
God protected me…
God saved me from…
God provided for me…
The people in my life who have faith, hope and love…
God has showed me grace…
God has healed me…
God has given me victory over sin….
People God has put on this earth…
(Consider people you may not know that you can still be thankful for)
Write your own unique prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord. Remember his blessings in the good and bad times.