Despite living in what is possibly the most abundant and prosperous society that has ever existed on earth, we aren’t as thankful as we should be. Thankfulness is not something that comes naturally. This applies to me, and it is probably true of you too. Thankfulness is a theme of the Bible. In fact God intends for us as humans and particularly as followers of Christ to be thankful people. Here’s how adding thankfulness will improve your prayer life.
God created us to give thanks. God intended for us to glorify Him directly in worship, and to glorify Him indirectly by giving thanks for His provision for us. Even though we sometimes recognize the power and nature of God (Rom 1:20), our flesh refuses to honor Him as God or give thanks to Him (Rom 1:21). The first step in the descent into depravity in Romans 1 is the refusal to honor God as God or give thanks to Him
Because thankfulness doesn’t come naturally, we need to deliberately work on adding it to our prayer life. This is why I recommend writing down three things each day that you can give thanks to the Lord for. As you work at becoming thankful and include it in your prayer life, your gratitude to the Lord will grow. Not only will thanksgiving change your prayer life, it will also change you.The first step in the descent into depravity in Romans 1 is the refusal to honor God as God or give thanks to Him Click To Tweet
1. Give thanks to recall that we don’t deserve good
Though we were created good, we rebelled and sinned against the Lord, incurring His righteous judgment and condemnation. Right now, we’re not receiving what we deserve. God withheld his judgment and sent His Son, Jesus Christ to atone for our sins by standing in our place. This doesn’t change what we deserve, but it reminds us that all that we have is not what we deserve. We deserve condemnation, but God has continued to provide us with common grace and kindness. We continue to enjoy the world He created for us rather than to suffer for the sin we have committed against him.
If we received what we deserved, we would be suffering immensely more than what anyone suffers on earth. But God intends far more than just the good we have. He is gracious, meaning He gives abundantly more than we deserve. When we give thanks, we remind ourselves that we do not deserve anything good that we have, but it is all from the Lord’s kindness and goodness.When we give thanks, we remind ourselves that we do not deserve anything good that we have, but it is all from the Lord's kindness and goodness. Click To Tweet
2. Give thanks to remember God’s constant goodness
Goodness is what God continually shows toward all mankind. In spite of all the bad and even evil things that happen in this world, nothing is as bad as we deserve, so even in the bad, there is an indication of the Lord’s goodness to us.
Therefore, we can give thanks regardless of our circumstances. Things could be worse, but they’re not, and that is a demonstration of the goodness of God.
3. Give thanks to undermine pride and arrogance
Thankfulness begins to change us because it challenges our pride and arrogance (these are the same thing). Pride, or thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought gives birth to entitlement. Entitlement makes us think we deserve something since we expect to be treated a certain way. Because of this expectation, we don’t see the things we have and what happen to us as a blessing. We see it as recompense or reward for being who we are.
We ought to give thanks to the Lord because we know that He could have acted differently than He has. In fact, if He had treated us the way we deserve, our lives would be incredibly different. But He doesn’t. He is merciful and gracious and kind and gives to us abundantly beyond what we could ask. Giving thanks recognizes this.
4. Give thanks to remember specific blessings
We take for granted what we have. But all good things come from God, including the peace in our land, the harmony in our family, the abilities we have to make decisions, the jobs we have, etc. All good things come from God (James 1:17). Yes, living in each moment, we often neglect stopping to reflect on the Lord’s specific goodness to us. When we recount God’s specific blessings, they become more concrete and thanksgiving comes easier. When we recount God's specific blessings, they become more concrete and thanksgiving comes easier. Click To Tweet
That we so easily and swiftly forget all the Lord’s mercies to us is an indication of the corruption of our flesh. Because of our tendency to forget about the Lord’s goodness and elevate our estimation of ourselves, we must be diligent to include thanksgiving not only at mealtimes but in all our prayers. There is always something to give thanks for because the Lord is always good. Our task is to look for the good things He has done and continues to do.
5. Give thanks to change your heart
For followers of Christ, it is the will of God that we give thanks (1 Thess 5:18). God is at work in us to change us for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). Therefore, He is working in you and I to make us thankful people. He does this through His Word. All we need to do is stop and make a point to give thanks.
As we give thanks, and grow in our recognition of His goodness, we will become aware that we have not earned, nor do we deserve all that God has given us. We will learn in time to recall the Lord’s goodness no matter how hard life is. The more we recognize the gravity of sin, the greater the grace of God will seem, and the more joyful and thankful we will be.
Thankfulness overflows into the rest of your life. If you are a thankful person, you’ll thank others for the good they do, and by doing this, you will influence others for good too. Thankfulness is infectious.The more we recognize the gravity of sin, the greater the grace of God will seem, and the more joyful and thankful we will be Click To Tweet
Thanksgiving will improve your prayer life. But, if you continue to meditate on the goodness and kindness of God and give thanks, it will change your outlook on life. You will see each day as a gift and every good thing as a gift from God. This means you will look for and receive those good things with joy and not with complaining. The bad things will take a new perspective as you see the amount of good in your life.
Start today by giving thanks for three things. Do the same tomorrow, and as time goes on, meditate on the goodness of God in your life every day, remembering that as a sinner, God should have given us much worse, but He has chosen to do good, even in this fallen and corrupted world.