Remember: prayer, Thanksgiving go hand-in-handPublished 12:00am Saturday, November 17, 2012
I read a thought-provoking statement the other day on Facebook. A friend posted this quote, “Thanking God after He answers is a prayer of gratitude. Thanking Him in advance is faith.”
The perspective of these wise words started me thinking about lessons God is teaching me lately about prayer. God always answers prayer. He just doesn’t always answer the way I want Him to answer or when I think He should answer because He is God and I am not.
I once read about the four ways God answers prayer. If the request is wrong, God says: No. If the timing is wrong, God says: Slow. If you are wrong, God says: Grow. But if the request is right, the timing is right, and you are right, God says: Go.
The late Ruth Bell Graham once wrote that if God had always answered her prayers her way, she “would have married the wrong man – several times.” We see the finite circumstances around us, God sees the infinite – past, present and future. Faith means trusting Him with what will only make sense when we look back. Contentment is thanking God for every answer to prayer, acknowledging that He is in control and wants what is best for us.
The Apostle Paul instructs us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). He goes on to tell us, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). King David put it this way, “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17).
Ann Voskamp has written a wonderful book titled One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are that has also given me fresh perspective into prayer and thanksgiving. She compiled a list of 1,000 things for which she was thankful.
“And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me,” she learned. “Thanksgiving – giving thanks in everything – prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ.”
She continues, “How my eyes see – perspective – is my key to enter into His gates. I can only do so with thanksgiving. If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can’t I give thanks for anything? And if I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute everything, I can enter the gates to glory. Living in His presence is fullness of joy – and seeing shows the way in.
“We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives,” says Voskamp.
This season of Thanksgiving and all through the year, I trust that you and I will see our circumstances from God’s perspective and thank Him in advance for His answer to our prayers.
Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist. Her email address is email@example.com.