Prayers of Thanksgiving can transform our lives and the world
Either by imperative or by example, the Bible urges us to be thankful more than a hundred times. Clearly, God takes thanksgiving very seriously.
In Scripture, the idea of giving thanks is not a suggestion or a recommendation, it is a command. It carries with it a similar weight as love your neighbor and give to the poor.
More than 100 times, either by imperative or by example, the Bible urges us to be thankful. So if quantity implies gravity, God takes thanksgiving very seriously. Here's why.
When I read the Book of Genesis in the Bible, I see that ingratitude is the original sin. Adam and Eve had a million reasons to give thanks: the waterfalls, the fowls, the shorelines, the sunsets. God found Eden so delightful that he himself strolled through it in the cool of the day.
Adam and Eve found the garden so safe, they wore no clothing. They had nothing to hide and no one from whom to hide. They dwelled in a perfect world. They were one with creation, one with God, one with each other. It was wonderful. Press your ear against the early pages of the Book of Genesis and you'll hear Eden in concert – but then came the snake.
Satan slithered into the garden. He raised a question about the forbidden tree. Adam and Eve could eat from all the others, but Satan focused on the single fruit they could not touch. "Eat it," he hissed, "and you will be like God." And just like that, Eden was not enough.
To be sure, the garden was a veritable paradise; ecological harmony, relational purity, spiritual peace. God had told them, "I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your good." They had their very own produce section! He had given them everything they needed. "But there could be more," suggested the Devil. "You deserve more," pointing at the delicacy that lay just across the boundary line.
And with that thought, Eve felt the first flush of discontent. Rather than ponder the garden of fruit she had, she examined the one fruit God forbade. Dissatisfaction moved in like a bully on the block.
I wonder, what if gratitude had won the day? What if Adam and Eve had scoffed at the snake's suggestion and said, "Are you kidding? Begrudge what we cannot eat? Have you seen this place? Strawberry patches, melon fields, orange groves, blueberry bushes. Let us take you on a tour, you little snake. We'll show you what God has given to us."
Had they chosen gratitude, would the world be different? If you choose gratitude, would your world be different?
The New Testament in 1 Thessalonians says, "Give thanks in everything." We might pause at the all-encompassing phrase, "in everything." In trouble, in the hospital, in a fix, in a mess, in distress – are we supposed to be grateful then? Jesus was.
Scripture says, "On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it." How often do you see the words "betrayed" and "thanks" in the same sentence, much less in the same heart? Let’s take a cue from Jesus, give thanks and see what happens.
My friend, prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving can get us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings during this time of Thanksgiving is to rehearse God's accomplishments, discover his heart, and remember that he has given us everything that we need. He gives us good gifts, because he is the good giver. Gratitude always leads us to focus on God, rather than our fears. The apostle Paul said, "Give thanks for everything to God the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Today, let’s fill our prayers with thanksgiving moment by moment, day by day, and watch our perspective, and our world, transform.