“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”
Accompany prayer “with thanksgiving.” We thank God for the privilege of prayer and for answered prayer. Thanksgiving verifies capacity of soul to appreciate God.
Thanking God in advance of the answer is an act of faith. Thanksgiving looks back to previous answers to prayer and gives thanks: “Last week I went to God with that same gnawing anxiety and He met me in my need.” Confidence for the future is based on confidence in the past. Do not forget to stir in a generous amount of thanksgiving before you get the answer.
We thank God whether His answer is “yes” or “no.” If we always receive a “yes” answer, we could be unhappy with the answer:
“And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.” (Ps 106:15)
We do not always want God to answer our prayer as we request it. We are not omniscient and cannot anticipate every eventuality. We would have married that “jerk” if God would have granted our request years ago when we were too immature to know the difference!
”Thanksgiving” is an indication of capacity to appreciate God. If we do not appreciate God, we will not even pray properly, much less give thanks. Thanksgiving implies gratitude. Gratitude implies submission to God. When we become convinced that God works all things together for good, we are grateful to a sovereign God. Thanksgiving indicates a heart that is at rest. We come to rest in the will of God and submit to whatever He chooses to do. Whatever the outcome, we rest in God’s sovereign hand. Thanksgiving means that we have peace about how God is going to answer.
Thanksgiving is one of the five categories of prayer. The other four categories are confession, praise, petition, and intercession. If we omit thanksgiving in prayer, our prayer is out of balance. How many people have you heard pray, “Oh God, help me,” while they thank God for not a thing? They are not thankful at all. Their only focus is to get out of the jam. The heat is on and they are trying to squirm out. God is irrelevant to them. He is only a genie who will help them out of their fix.
Thanksgiving indicates a capacity of soul that appreciates God and His work.
Why give thanks? This is the response of faith to a faithful God. Thanksgiving is more than thankfulness for material things. Unbelievers give thanks for material blessing. Christians should thank God for the grace of God, the provisions God has made in Christ. We should thank Him for our positional truth, for the wonder of His attributes. The extent of some people’s capacity for thanks is to thank God that the pressure is removed. Once the pressure goes, they move on and forget that God exists.