We are not very good at saying “Thank you,” are we? We are often like a little boy who, upon his return from a birthday party, was asked by his mother, “Bobby, did you thank the lady for the party?”
“Well, I was going to, but a girl ahead of me said, ‘Thank you,’ and the lady told her not to mention it. So I didn’t!”
“The leper that returned to give glory to God was rewarded for his faith and gratitude. But how sad it is that only one of the ten appreciated the blessing that was bestowed upon them! In every age God has poured out his blessings upon men, and has healed and restored them as he healed the ten lepers. But how often the proportion of those who recognize and appreciate God’s mercies is even less than one to ten! The nine did not report themselves, but went on their way, satisfied that they were restored. They did not give honor to God, and to Jesus Christ, whom he had sent to be their healer. The Lord works continually to benefit mankind. He is continually imparting his bounties. He raises up the sick from beds of languishing, he delivers men from peril which they do not see; he commissions heavenly angels to save men from calamity, to guard them from the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and from the destruction that wasteth at noonday, but their hearts are unimpressed. They do not consider God’s blessings, they do not rejoice in his love. They center all their thoughts upon themselves. They do not appreciate Christ’s pitying tenderness and matchless love. Only a few discern that their blessings are the result of the never-failing mercies of God through Jesus Christ; but those who do discern this fact, make melody in their hearts to God, and, as did the cleansed leper, they offer to him a tribute of praise and thanksgiving.” The Signs of the Times, July 2, 1896.
Recognize Your Blessings
During this season of thanksgiving, we want to say “Thank you,” but before we can do that, we need to count our many blessings. “Count your blessings” is excellent advice, but sometimes we have to recognize them first!
A man who owned a small property wished to sell it. Sending for a real estate agent, he asked him to write an advertisement describing the house and land.
When the ad was ready, the agent took it to the owner and read it to him. “Read that again,” demanded the owner. The agent read the description of the property once more. “I don’t think I will sell it after all,” said the owner. “I have been looking for a property like that all my life, and I did not realize that I already owned it!”
“Count your blessings”—yes, but start by asking God to open your eyes to see your possessions in Christ. Begin by recognizing all that you have in Christ. That will change your entire perspective and enable you to praise and thank God for what you have.
The Greatest Gift
From James 1:17 we read: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” What is the good gift referred to in this passage? It is the greatest Gift of all: “The heart of God yearns over His earthly children with a love stronger than death. In giving up His Son, He has poured out to us all heaven in one gift.” Steps to Christ, 21.
And what does Christ wish to give to us? “He [Christ] should be presented as the Source of all true pleasure and satisfaction, the Giver of every good and perfect gift, the Author of every blessing, the One in whom all our hopes of eternal life are centered.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 175.
Do you realize that not everyone in the world knows Jesus? There are over 6 billion people on this earth today. It is difficult to say just how many of these inhabitants are Christian, but it is thought that 33 percent, or nearly 2.1 billion people, consider themselves to be Christian. (<www.adherents.com> September 2007.) Regardless of what statistic you use, think of what this means. This means that the vast majority of people do not know about or believe in Jesus! Every time you draw a breath, at least four people die who have never heard the name of Jesus. That is almost 200,000 people a day! Someone put it this way: What is 750,000 miles long, reaches around the earth 30 times, and grows 20 miles longer each day? Answer: The line of people who are without Christ.
We are privileged, so privileged, to know Christ; we are privileged to be part of His church. For Christ, His grace, and salvation we need to give thanks.
Prayers of Thanksgiving
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I Thessalonians 5:18.
How are we to give thanks? What form is our thanksgiving to take? When we look through the Bible, we see that thanksgiving can be shown in a number of different ways. We are told that thanksgiving is a natural element of Christian worship. (I Corinthians 14:16, 17.) The psalmist tells us to offer to God a song of thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30, 31.) Hebrews tells us that we give to God a sacrifice of praise when we confess the name of Jesus. (Hebrews 13:15.) And, of course, we show thanks to God by the giving of our gifts.
Especially, though, we are to pray. “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2. Why do Christians need to pray? Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us. Prayer time is meant to be thanksgiving time.
Jesus gave us an example of this: “And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before [them]; and they did set [them] before the people.” Mark 8:6.
As Jesus demonstrated, prayer time is to be thanksgiving time. Too many times, though, when we come to God in prayer, we come as prayer beggars: give me, help me, bless me, heal me … God wants us to ask, but when we pray, He also wants us to come to Him as praise givers. Many modern Christians tend either to neglect the practice of prayer or to minimize its significance. Jesus holds before us the importance of prayer as a time of thanksgiving.
“Shall all our devotional exercises consist in asking and receiving? Shall we be always thinking of our wants and never of the benefits we receive? Shall we be recipients of His mercies and never express our gratitude to God, never praise Him for what He has done for us? We do not pray any too much, but we are too sparing of giving thanks. If the loving-kindness of God called forth more thanksgiving and praise, we would have far more power in prayer. We would abound more and more in the love of God and have more bestowed to praise Him for. You who complain that God does not hear your prayers, change your present order and mingle praise with your petitions. When you consider His goodness and mercies you will find that He will consider your wants.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 317.
Based On Scripture
It is good for our prayers to use the actual words of Scripture as we claim the promises given there. For instance, we can pray using the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, the Lord’s Prayer, as given in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. But we can also pray using the words of the Psalmist: “O give thanks unto the Lord, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.” Psalm 107:1. “Praise the Lord [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men!” Verse 8. Let us give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. (Psalm 107:15, 21, 31.)
“O give thanks unto the Lord; for [he is] good: because his mercy [endureth] for ever.” Psalm 118:1. And give thanks for the salvation He has given: “I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.” Verse 21. “Thou [art] my God, and I will praise thee: [thou art] my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the Lord; for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.” Verses 28, 29.
Have you ever thought of the Psalms as prayers, of using them as your own prayers of thanksgiving to God?
Words of Paul
We can also use the inspired words of Paul as our prayers of thanksgiving to God. Some appropriate passages would be: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” Romans 1:8.
“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and [in] all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.” I Corinthians 1:4–6.
“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3–6.
God loves the words of our biblical prayers because these are the words of His own heart and mind. By them God is praised. By them God is thanked. By them God is glorified.
God wants us to receive every good thing with thanksgiving. There are many ways to give thanksgiving, but the best way is through prayer.
“Man must come on bended knee, as a subject of grace, a suppliant at the footstool of mercy. And as he receives daily mercies at the hand of God, he is ever to cherish gratitude in his heart, and give expression to it in the words of thanksgiving and praise for these unmerited favors.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 315.
What will be the result as we express our praise and thanksgiving in this way? “Our hearts are to be so filled with the love of Christ that our words of thanksgiving shall warm other hearts. This is service that all can perform, and the Lord accepts it as offered to Himself. He makes it efficacious, imparting to the earnest worker the grace that reconciles man to God.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 18.
As we thus labor for God, with thankful hearts, we must: “Be of good courage in the Lord. Learn to take everything to Him in prayer. Believe that He helps you. Express your gratitude by words of thanksgiving. Do not look on the dark side, but believe God’s promises, and walk by faith.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 133.
[All emphasis added.]
A member of the LandMarks editorial staff, Anna writes from her home in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. She may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com.