Paul wrote to the Philippians in Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Paul also wrote, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5:18).
Alexander Cruden wrote of the word thanksgiving, “An acknowledging and confessing with gladness the benefits and mercies, which God bestows either upon ourselves or others” (Cruden’s Concordance). Throughout the pages of inspiration, we are often exhorted to be thankful. The Psalmist wrote, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4). And to the church at Colosse Paul urged, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Col. 3:15). In the negative sense in listing the sinful condition of the Gentiles, Paul said: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were they thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21).
Paul practiced what he urged upon his fellow Christians to do in giving thanks. “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57). “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (II Cor. 2:14). “But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you” (II Cor. 8:16). “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (II Cor. 9:15). Perhaps his statement in Ephesians 5:20 sums it up, as far as Paul is concerned: “Giving thanks always, for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now, let’s go back to our original passage of Scripture with which we began this article: “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” It appears that Paul viewed prayer as the proper response to every situation that might arise in our lives. There is nothing which has to do with our life that we cannot go and spread it all before the Lord. We are taught that God is pleased when His children approach Him in prayer. He has assured us that He is ever able and ready to listen and bless us, even more so than earthly parents (Eph. 3:20). It is equally clear that thanksgiving should accompany all of our prayers, no matter the circumstance or the situation.
Are you thankful? Does thanksgiving accompany every request you make to God? In the words of the Christian hymn, “Count Your Blessings”, the final verse says, “So, amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.” I can only add, “Amen!”
-Paul M. Wilmoth, Instructor of Preaching