During this time of economic uncertainty, many people are taking a long hard look at their investments. Some are also wondering if they should change banks. They are reviewing their banks accounts, asking themselves what they can do to protect their financial assets. Well, during this THANKSGIVING SEASON, I have been considering something else, something that could free us from some of our fears and contribute immeasurably to the renewal of our minds and our spiritual enrichment: OPENING A “THANK ACCOUNT.”
This is an account that we would open with God, expressing out thanks on a daily basis, making regular “deposits,” and hopefully no “withdrawals” because we are discouraged and do not feel like giving thanks. We can attach too much importance to our feelings, which are continually changing, depending upon our circumstances. In setting up a “Thank-Account” with God, we are not trying to strike a bargain with God. We are simply trying to cultivate grateful habits of the heart, and hoping to be less negative, less pessimistic, resisting the temptation to only give thanks when we “feel like it.” The New Testament admonishes us to give thanks at all times, in all circumstances, whether we feel like it or not. Praise God anyhow, “…giving thanks to God the Father at all times, and for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20) – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:4-5) – “PRAY WITHOUT CEASING, GIVING THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS FOR YOU” (I Thessalonians 5:17-18).
THERE ARE TIMES WHEN WE WONDER WHY OUR PRAYERS HAVE NOT BEEN ANSWERED, AT LEAST NOT IN THE MANNER WE HAD EXPECTED THEM TO BE ANSWERED, and in such times we may find ourselves growing weary, losing heart, and not in the mood to give thanks. During this Thanksgiving Season I want to share a secret with you that will make your prayer life much more enjoyable and far more effective, because your prayers will be less self-centered and more God-centered – not praying “my will be done,” but rather “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10) and really meaning it! When that happens, as you submit yourself unreservedly and unconditionally to the will of God, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in your life, you will begin to experience the peace of God that “passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). The only people who experience the peace of God are the people who are at peace with God!
Begin and end every day by offering a prayer like this, “Father God, in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I submit myself to you this day, praying for Your will to be done in my life. I thank You for the assurance that You will guide me this day in all of my decisions, in all of my actions. This is my earnest prayer: less of self, and more of You! Your will be done in my life today. I offer this prayer in faith and hope, in Jesus’ name, and with great thanksgiving. Amen.” We must begin the day right if we want the day to go right! There is a little verse that says it so well: “I think I know the secret learned through many a troubled way, we must seek God in the morning, if we want God through the day” (see Psalm 116:17; Psalm 118:19-24; Psalm 119:10-16; Psalm 90:14; Psalm 40:8; Psalm 34:15-18; Psalm 32:8; Psalm 25:4-5).Then end each day with prayers of thanksgiving for the Lord’s presence and guidance throughout the day, praying with the psalmist: “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me” (Psalm 3:5). Practice praying the psalms. It is a wonderful spiritual discipline. Do not just read the psalms – meditate on them, one verse at a time. For example, Psalm 139: “Lord, you know when I lie down, and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar… You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways…Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts, See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (vs. 1-2, 23-24). The Apostle Paul acknowledges that sometimes we do not know how to pray (Romans 8:26-28), and in such times we can pray some of the psalms, for we can always find a psalm that expresses how we feel, applying the words of the psalmist to our own lives, praying always according to the will of God, and with great thanksgiving.
I know all believers offer occasional prayers of thanksgiving, but how often are those prayers offered in submission to the will of God in all the circumstances of our lives? We also offer prayers of petition, prayers of confession, prayers of intercession, but how often do we offer those prayers in submission to the perfect will of God, according to His purpose, and for His glory? And how often do we end those prayers, as we are told to do “with great thanksgiving”? It is important to cultivate grateful habits of the heart, praying at all times, and in all circumstances, with thanksgiving for the privilege of prayer. We do not pray because we must. We pray because we may! In his first Letter to the Thessalonians the Apostle Paul gives us this wise counsel: “Rejoice in the Lord always; pray constantly, giving thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (5:16-18). In his Letter to the Philippians he writes, “Have no anxiety about anything, but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will keep your minds and your hearts in Christ Jesus” (4:4-7).
WHENEVER AND WHEREVER YOU PRAY, ALWAYS PRAY WITH GREAT THANKSGIVING! IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY DONE SO, THIS THANKSGIVING SEASON IS A WONDERFUL TIME FOR YOU TO OPEN A “THANK ACCOUNT,” AND THEN MAKE DAILY DEPOSITS, NAMING THOSE THINGS FOR WHICH YOU ARE MOST GRATEFUL. BE SPECIFIC. IT IS GOOD TO PRAY SPECIFICALLY (P.S. Don’t forget to name the trials, the struggles, the difficulties of life, for they are often blessings in disguise – they teach us to trust God more, and the testing of our faith produces steadfastness).