Giving thanks in prayer
Thanksgiving is one of the virtues that best represent the character of Christ and the Christian expression of a warm heart full of love and words toward God. Paul declared:
Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)
As Christians we should joyfully embrace Paul’s advice to be thankful (Colossians 3:15), because thankfulness not only pleases the heart of the Father, it also enriches our lives. Thanksgiving is the act of expressing gratefulness to God for blessings that He has poured upon us. These thanks can be mental or vocal. Thanksgiving is different from praise because in praise the focus is on what God does, His works and accomplishments, while Thanksgiving focuses on what God has given us and done for us. We can call it a confession of blessing. We can attest to the fact through a series of biblical passages that:
This attitude was present in the life of Jesus (John 11:4; Mark 8:6; Matthew 11:25) and will be present in heaven (Revelation 4:9; 7:12).
Thanksgiving was a type of offering given in the Temple (Leviticus 7:12; 2 Chronicles 29:31; 33:16). The giving of tanks was also one of the functions of the singers in the Temple (2 Chronicles 5:11-14).
The Jews practiced prayers of thanksgiving at the restoration of the nation of Israel (Isaiah 51:3; Jeremiah 17:26; 30:19; 33:11); and the prayer of thanksgiving occupies a very important place in temple worship (Nehemiah 12:46; 2 Chronicles 7:6).
Thanksgiving is a spiritual sacrifice to God (Psalm 50:14, 23; 116:17) and constitutes the principle manner to praise him. (Psalm 69:30; 95:2; 100:4; 147:7).
We must include thanksgiving in all of our prayers (Philippians 4:6); both before we receive each answer to prayer as well as after we receive them (Colossians 4:2).
It is God’s will for His children to give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18); in an abundant way (2 Corinthians 4:15) Thanksgiving must permeate our conversation (Ephesians 5:4) and we must seek to grow in our practice of thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6, 7).
All of these observations give ample basis for the affirmation of the importance of the prayer of thanksgiving. Let us now see some further principles about this prayer of thanksgiving.
We find the first principle in 1 Corinthians 10:10. Thanksgiving protects us from the destroyer. The Bible mentions the name of many demons: Legion, Apollyon, Destroyer, Dagon, Ashtaroth etc. However, here we see the demon called destroyer mentioned who operates through ungratefulness and murmuring. Many people fear the demon called destroyer and that is why they pay their tithes, but still they forget that an ungrateful heart is an open door for the destroyer.
Second, we can see the power of thanksgiving protecting us from evil influences. Paul said that we sanctify the food we eat when we receive it with thanksgiving. There is no need to rebuke demons constantly; it is enough to have a grateful heart towards God to receive his protection. Did you ever think of how many sicknesses we could avoid if we were just more thankful for our meals?
Third, thanksgiving has the power to multiply blessings. When Jesus went to multiply the loaves of bread, He did not offer a prayer of faith, He simply gave thanks to the Father (John 6:11). Many people do not prosper because they have not learned to thank God for the five little loaves and two fish. If we are content with a little, the Lord will multiply it and we will see the abundance of God.