Summary: “Returning thanks for blessings already received increases our faith and enables us to approach God with new boldness and new assurance.... As one meditates on the answer to prayers already granted, faith waxes bolder and bolder, and we come to feel in th
Prayer Keys - Thanksgiving
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” Philippians 4:6.
Rudyard Kipling was one of the few writers of his day who had opportunity to enjoy his success while he lived. One time a newspaper reporter came up to him and said, “Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over a hundred dollars a word. Mr. Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, “Really, I wasn’t aware of that.” The reporter cynically reached into his pocket, pulled out a one hundred dollar bill, gave it to Kipling, and said, “Here’s a hundred dollar bill, Mr. Kipling. Now, you give me one of your hundred dollar words.” Kipling looked at the hundred dollar bill for a moment, took it, folded it up, put it in his pocket, and said, “Thanks.” It’s true, ‘Thanks’ is a hundred dollar word. It’s a word we probably don’t say often enough. and being thankful is an attitude we probably don’t have enough. [sermoncentral.com]
One year, the Peanuts comic strip had Charlie Brown bringing out Snoopy’s dinner on Thanksgiving Day. It was just his usual dog food in his usual bowl. Snoopy looked at the dog food and thought, “This isn’t fair. The rest of the world is eating turkey with all the trimmings and all I get is dog food. Because I’m a dog, all I get is dog food.” He stared at his dog food for a moment and thought, “I guess it could be worse. I could be a turkey.”
Several housewives wrote what they were especially thankful for. The list included...
“For teenagers because they give parents an opportunity to learn a second language.
“For Smoke alarms because they let you know when the turkey’s done.
“For children who put away their things and clean up after themselves. They’re such a joy you hate to see them go home to their own parents.” [sermoncentral.com]
When preaching on Philippians 4:6, many preachers emphasize the “do not be anxious for anything,” and the “present your requests to God.” They emphasize the peace of God in 4:7. These things should be emphasized. It seems, however, that “with thanksgiving” is not emphasized enough. Of 214 sermons from Philippians 4:6-7 listed on sermoncentral.com, only thirteen listed thanksgiving as a topic and only one listed gratitude.
We all have something to be thankful for. Throughout his letters, Paul practiced thanksgiving. He thanked God for the churches to whom he was writing in Romans 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:4, Ephesians 1:15-16, Philippians 1:3, Colosians 1:3, and 1 Thessalonians 1:2
He thanked Jesus Christ for putting him into the ministry in 1 Timothy 1:12. He thanked God for Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:3 and for Philemon in Philemon 1:4. He thanked God for deliverance from sin in Romans 7:25. He thanked God for victory over death in 1 Corinthians 15:57.
Paul’s example of being specific in offering thanks is a good example for us. We are often very specific in our requests but very general in our thanks. We offer many requests and then we offer a “Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings.” Like Paul, we should be specific in our thanks for blessings already granted.
Over hundred years ago, R. A. Torrey wrote, “Returning thanks for blessings already received increases our faith and enables us to approach God with new boldness and new assurance. Doubtless the reason so many have so little faith when they pray is because they take so little time to meditate upon and thank God for blessings already received. As one meditates on the answer to prayers already granted, faith waxes bolder and bolder, and we come to feel in the very depths of our souls that there is nothing too hard for the Lord. As we reflect upon the wondrous goodness of God toward us on the one hand, and upon the other hand upon little thought and strength and time that we ever put into thanksgiving, we may well humble ourselves before God and confess our sin.” (How to Pray, p. 26)
Thanksgiving increases our faith and boldness, which we have also studied as prayer keys. Awareness of our need to give thanks increases our humility and encourages confession, two more prayer keys we have studied. Prayer keys are not isolated things. They all work together as we abide in Christ.
As we said when studying praise, there is a difference between giving thanks IN all things and giving thanks FOR all things. Some bad situations, like the fleas in Corrie Ten Boom’s barracks, are part of God’s providence [see the sermoncentral.com sermon, Prayer Keys - Delight in the Lord]. Some bad situations, like rape or losing a child in an accident with a drunk driver, are the results of man’s sin. This is a fallen world. Our reason for being thankful is not to be found in the nature of our circumstances. Rather, our reason for being thankful is to be found in the nature of our God.