A Prayer for Giving Thanks
Do you remember the first time you ever said “thank you” to someone? Most of us don’t remember because we were taught to say thank you from the time we could first begin forming words. When the occasion calls for it, the words roll off our tongues smoothly, effortlessly, and sometimes even unconsciously.
Thank you. We say those two words rather often - when someone passes the salt, holds a door open, hands you a receipt, pays you a compliment, does you a favor, buys your meal, raises your salary, gives you their business, makes a donation, or saves your life. No matter how large or small the service, the same two words are spoken – thank you.
November is National Gratitude Month, designated as a time to embrace gratitude and be thankful because of all the positive effects gratitude has on our overall health. The National Day Calendar reports, “On average, grateful people tend to have fewer stress-related illnesses and experience less depression and lowered blood pressure, they are more physically fit, they are happier, have a higher income, more satisfying personal and professional relationships, and will be better liked. Grateful kids are even more likely to get A’s in school.” Wow! Who wouldn’t want to be a grateful person with all those amazing benefits? But having gratitude and saying thank you are two different things.
While having gratitude may be somewhat beneficial, it’s only one aspect of the larger picture as God designed it. In the Gospels, Luke tells the story of ten men who have skin diseases (leprosy). They see Jesus and call out begging Him to have mercy on them. All ten are grateful to be healed but only one tells Jesus thank you. “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.” (Luke 17:15-16)
I think of myself as a thankful person. I believe that I say the words “thank you” often and freely. But I wonder, how often do I say thank you to God? How often do I ponder all the things for which I am grateful and then simply sit with Him and thank Him (no other prayers attached)? I want to say thank you to God differently from the way I say thank you to someone who opens a door for me. My desire is to say thank you to God from the depths of my heart – to the One who has saved my life.
Psalm 107 is psalm of thanksgiving to God and it makes a wonderful template as a prayer for giving thanks. The writer of Psalm 107 begins, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,whom he has redeemed from trouble.” The psalmist’s rich imagery of Israel’s redemption from exile invites us to consider things for which we may not normally give thanks to God.
The prayer practice below uses Psalm 107 as a template. It is designed for setting aside time to meet with the Lord and thank Him for what He has done for you personally. I have provided reflection questions to go along with the passages of Scripture. I hope you enjoy meaningful time with the Lord in the practice of giving thanks to Him.
A Prayer for Giving Thanks
Psalm 107:1 ESV
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His steadfast love endures forever.”
Open your prayer with thanksgiving to God for his goodness and love.
Psalm 107:4-9 MSG
“Some of you wandered for years in the desert, looking but not finding a good place to live, Half-starved and parched with thirst, staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion. Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God. He got you out in the nick of time; He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves. He poured great draughts of water down parched throats; the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.”
How have you been in places of wandering?
When have you been on the brink of exhaustion?
How has the Lord brought you out or is bringing you out to put your feet on a new path?
Give thanks to God for His marvelous love for you.
Psalm 107:10-16 MSG
“Some of you were locked in a dark cell, cruelly confined behind bars, Punished for defying God’s Word, for turning your back on the High God’s counsel— A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy, and not a soul in sight to help. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time. He led you out of your dark, dark cell, broke open the jail and led you out. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves; He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors, he snapped the prison bars like matchsticks!”
Are there times in which you turned away from the Lord’s counsel?
Notice when you returned to the Lord, and how He led you out of the darkness.
Thank God for His miracle mercy and His marvelous love.
Psalm 107:17-22 MSG “Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin; You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what he’s done—sing it out!”
Acknowledge the ways that sin has impacted your life - in the past and in the present.
Take time to confess sin that is present in your life now. Ask for and receive forgiveness from the Lord.
Thank him for His mercy and forgiveness.
Psalm 107:23-32 MSG
“Some of you set sail in big ships; you put to sea to do business in faraway ports. Out at sea you saw God in action, saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean: With a word he called up the wind— an ocean storm, towering waves! You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out; your hearts were stuck in your throats. You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk, you didn’t know which end was up. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time. He quieted the wind down to a whisper, put a muzzle on all the big waves. And you were so glad when the storm died down, and he led you safely back to harbor. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves. Lift high your praises when the people assemble, shout Hallelujah when the elders meet!”
This is a passage that describes situations that are out of your control. No one is exempt from peril, pain, and suffering. These things are present in the life of Christ, and you can rest assured that He is with you when you experience hardships in life.
Take time to thank God for His marvelous love and for His miraculous mercies.
Psalm 107:33-43 MSG
“God turned rivers into wasteland, springs of water into sunbaked mud; Luscious orchards became alkali flats because of the evil of the people who lived there. Then he changed wasteland into fresh pools of water, arid earth into springs of water, Brought in the hungry and settled them there; they moved in—what a great place to live! They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards, they reaped a bountiful harvest. He blessed them and they prospered greatly; their herds of cattle never decreased. But abuse and evil and trouble declined as he heaped scorn on princes and sent them away. He gave the poor a safe place to live, treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep. Good people see this and are glad; bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks. If you are really wise, you’ll think this over— it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.”
Consider the ways you have seen God’s abundance in your life. Use the Scriptures in this passage as a springboard for thanksgiving.
How has He changed the desert into water, satisfied your hunger, given you bountiful harvest?
Consider not only His physical gifts, but also the spiritual gifts you have been given - abundance of God’s presence, a thirst for God that He alone satisfies, protection from the enemy, and care as His beloved. Thank Him.
Close your prayer by appreciating His deep love for you.
My hope is that your prayers of thanksgiving will strengthen and deepen your relationship with Him.
One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
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