“How can I repay the Lord for all the good he has done for me?” (Ps. 116:12).
Offering thanksgiving prayers is a spiritual discipline we should embrace. At a time in our cultural history when so much is readily available, we find ourselves discontent with everything. The need for instant and progressively more intense gratification is poisonous to our souls. The insatiability of our desires is a disease. Christians should live in stark contrast to the never-ending cycle of needing the next supposedly-great thing the world has to offer. With eternity laid into the hearts of all people (see Ecc. 3:11), we live with a happy knowledge of true satisfaction in God. Our friends outside the faith, however, are struggling with such an idea.
The shopping season that masquerades as a holiday season is emblematic of the skirmish for our affections.
As we move into the Thanksgiving season, we should echo the words of the psalmist with our lips and our lives. The goodness of the Lord should be easily recounted. Rather than demanding what is next on our wish list, we should pause to give thanks for what God has done. As individuals and families, it can happen. Thanksgiving is to be more than a date on the calendar, a meal on the table, or even a perfunctory practice before we dig into the turkey. You can make offering thanks into a spiritual discipline that blesses the name of God and benefits your own soul.
Thanksgiving Is the Will of God
First Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us, “Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It’s a portion of how we live as a holy people. A lifestyle of thanksgiving sets us apart. Be reminded that holiness isn’t just moral excellence. Holiness includes our moral choices but it’s more. As holy people, our aim is to follow the will of Christ. Thankfulness creates a distinct avenue for spiritual maturity and missional witness. You will find yourself growing in grace because you more fully recognize its impact on you. Those outside the faith will see God’s grace at work because you’ve spoken about it.
Be Grateful Regardless of Circumstances
Daniel lived as an exile in a land of abundance. It’s a familiar scenario for us. As Christians, we live perpetually in a Babylon that is filled with the temptations of excess. So when his faith was challenged, Daniel remained true to the Lord. In fact, when his faith in God was outlawed, Daniel responded with gratitude: “When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upstairs room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Dan. 6:10). No matter what we face, we can express our thanksgiving to the God who is there, who is powerful, and who is our advocate.
Overflow with Thanks
Gratitude seems to be in short supply in a culture that is never content. But we’re taught in Colossians 2:6-7, “So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.” Walking in our salvation should create a flood of thanksgiving.
Have a Comprehensive Outlook
In Ephesians 5:20, Paul wrote, “...giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” To be thankful for “everything” seems to be an overreach. It’s not. All of the good gifts of this life come down from our heavenly Father. There isn’t a single thing that you have or can accomplish by your own hand. We need to have thankfulness at the ready in all circumstances
Devotion Leads to Gratitude
Knowing that we’re given to selfishness and discontent, it’s a work that requires discipline. Colossians 4:2 tells us, “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.” You must persevere and show vigilance in a life of thankfulness. Otherwise, what someone else just bought will become what you feel entitled to have too. Devote yourself to a relationship with Christ and the things of earth will dull in your sight.
In this season, make your prayers more than something that is stated in 20 seconds over a table filled with food. Create an attitude of thankfulness in your heart that you carry throughout life.
This article is adapted from HomeLife Magazine.