Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Have you ever enjoyed a pizza without a crust or a cake without batter? Why not? You can’t really have a pizza without crust or a cake without batter. It wouldn’t be the same thing. The same is true with the prayer of thanksgiving, because you cannot really have a good prayer without giving God thanks.
Before you ask God to do something new, God wants to know if you’re thankful for what He’s already done.
Paul taught in Philippians that whenever we pray, especially when making requests to God, we should always include the prayer of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving literally means, “to give thanks.” A prayer without thanksgiving is like a pizza without a crust or a cake without batter! I don’t give God thanks so I can get more stuff. I thank God because I realize that without Him, I am nothing.
There are two ways to thank God in prayer. First, thank God for who He is. Second, thank God for what He has done. Starting with who God is, you can thank Him for manifesting and revealing His many divine attributes. You can thank Him for His mercy, kindness, truth, power, forgiveness, love, wisdom, compassion, generosity, favor, blessings, friendship, salvation and His unchanging nature. David said, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30). For example, “God, I thank you that you are so loving to me, always compassionate and slow to anger. I thank you for your truth and wisdom that you so freely give and for your power that dwells within me and is displayed in the universe for all to see.”
Next, you can thank God in three ways for what He has done; (1) For what He has done in the past, (2) For what He is doing in the present and (3) For what God will do in the future. First, you can give God thanks for all the things He has already done in the past. For example, “Thank you God for saving me, making me new, giving me the Holy Spirit to dwell with me, for every day of life I’ve already lived and for all your kindness to me.”
Second, you can also take time to thank Him for all the things He is currently doing in your life. “God, I thank you today that I am alive and that I am holy, righteous, a new creation, favored, empowered to prosper and your Kingdom representative. I thank you that I have been given the honor to pray to you, serve you in a great church and have the chance to make disciples for your glory. I thank you for my family, job and all the good things in my life.”
Lastly, you can thank God for all the things He has promised to do. “God, I thank you that you promised to never leave me or forsake me, that you have prepared a place for me in heaven, and are coming back to give me a new body to forever dwell with you upon the new earth. I thank you that every promise you have ever made is, “Yes and amen in Christ Jesus!”
Andrew Murray wrote, “Let us thank God heartily as often as we pray… thanksgiving will draw our hearts out to God and keep us engaged with Him; it will take our attention from ourselves and give the Spirit room in our hearts.” Make time every day in your prayers to thank God for all that He is, has done, is doing and will do!
Do you include thanksgiving to God in your prayers?
- Repent if you have not been thankful towards God in your prayers; especially if you’ve been bitter, jealous or feeling sorry for yourself.
- Think of five things you are thankful for and give God thanks.
- Tell three people today how good God has been to you!