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"Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness" (Ps. 107:8-9).
As we progress into Thanksgiving week, many traditionally look forward to spending time celebrating with family and friends. May we also remember with gratitude all the Lord has done and continues to do in our lives.
Perhaps for some, you may feel personally overwhelmed. It seems many are facing difficulties and personal challenges, exasperated by all the national and global challenges we are living in today. It has been a season where a number of people have become overwhelmed of heart, living in fear and anxiety about what's to come.
So how do we, as God's people, position ourselves so that we are not overcome by anxiety, fear, and stress? May we be reminded to keep perspective and hope, knowing there is still much to be thankful for...this Thanksgiving and every day.
Philippians 4:6-7 encourages and reminds us: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Unfortunately, our posture in prayer is often one of supplication and petition but we forget about Thanksgiving and gratitude!
When we are in places of desperation and in need of breakthrough, we rush to the Lord to beseech Him for what we need. And He certainly wants us to come to Him with our needs, and even commands it! But I believe we would see greater breakthroughs if we remembered to come with an attitude of thanksgiving. As Paul said, "In everything...with thanksgiving..."
I remember a time, years ago, that I had great personal desperation and need in my life. I needed a spiritual breakthrough. I got home late after witnessing on the streets and seeing little fruit. I was frustrated in the ministry. I was tired and discouraged. I didn't feel like praying. I didn't want to worship, and I actually felt my heart becoming hardened.
I fell down on the mattress in my dark room and cried out to the Lord. I sensed Him telling me to read about the woman at the well, so I picked up my Bible and began to read the story in John 4. As I did, I heard Him speak into my heart and spirit the same words Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well: "Give me a drink."
I responded by thinking, Lord, I'm the one who needs a drink from you! Immediately I realized again what the Lord had said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:10 and John 4:14, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'give Me a drink, you would have asked and He would have given you living water'...'but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst. But the water that I shall give will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.'"
God began speaking into my heart once again: "Doug, there are plenty of times to come with supplication before Me, there are plenty of times to ask Me for your needs. And I want to hear about those things. But, sometimes you just need to come to Me, give Me a drink, and thank Me for what I've already done and for who I am."
Out of sheer obedience, not feeling it, I began to thank God for what He had done in my life. I still didn't feel like praying. But the Bible says we are to give a sacrifice of praise, so I began to sing, "Praise the name of Jesus." Then I began to to think of the many thinks I could thank Him for, all He had done in my life.
Then it started to dawn on me. The Lord began to remind me of where He had brought me from. Suddenly, I wasn't just thanking Him with my mind. My spirit began to come alive, as I simply started having a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving, praying in the Spirit and worshipping God. He had brought me the liberation and breakthrough I needed—not because I came with petitions and requests, but because I came with thanksgiving.
We need to realize that a little gratitude can go a long way toward effective prayer. When we begin to appreciate God for who He is, we gain access to His presence in a fresh, new way. We enter into the gates of His presence when we enter with thanksgiving. And in His presence, great blessing and power are released.
Yes! Psalm 107:8-9 and Jonah 2:7-9 became rhema to me!
"Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness," (Ps. 107:8-9).
"When my soul fainted within me (my life ebbing away), I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, into Your Holy temple. Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own mercy (or loving kindness and grace). But, I will sacrifice to You with the voice (or song) of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed (keep my covenant commitment). Salvation is of the Lord." (Jon. 2:7-9)
When we have a heart of gratitude toward God and we show appreciation to God or to others, there is reciprocation. That's the law of reciprocity. There's something about gratitude, appreciation and thanksgiving that releases blessings in and through us.
We have all experienced challenges in life and temporary setbacks, but with the support and prayers of those around us, in time we gain trust and hope again. We can always put our hope and trust in the Lord! Even though we go through challenges, obstacles and life-altering events, God is there for us with arms outstretched. His unfailing love will see us through it, and His plans for our lives never change.
The following excerpt is from an article I wrote in 2012:
"God has not forgotten you. He has a plan and a purpose for you that are greater than any of the temporary circumstances that may be plaguing you. His Word over your life is true and He will be faithful to complete it.
"We must stand on the goodness and faithfulness of God and continue to declare His Word over our lives. In 2 Chronicles 6:17, Solomon prayed, 'And now, O LORD God of Israel, let Your word come true, which You have spoken to Your servant David.' Solomon knew the word of God spoken over his father, David, and that word carried the promises for his own life. Now Solomon cried out to the Lord to let that word come true that he might see it come to pass.
"We too, must pray earnestly for the purposes of God to come to pass in our lives. We are not to sit idly by, waiting to see what will happen all around us. No, God invites us to become partners with Him to see His word come to pass. Jesus commanded us to pray as He prayed, 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'"
In the midst of challenges, God's faithfulness and his goodness are ever present. But it's important that we not let our focus turn to the circumstances, which can cause us to doubt God's word for our lives. When we stop to reflect on the landmarks of our past and what God has done in our lives, we see His consistency, His faithfulness and His great, amazing and abounding grace. His Word over our lives remains steadfast. His nature is unchanging. He is faithful to His word. He has not forgotten you or me or his promises for our lives.
Psalm 139:17-18 is such a wonderful reminder to us!
"How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You," (Ps. 139:17-18).
For the rest of this article, visit dougstringer.com.
Dr. Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America/International. As an American of Asian descent, Doug is considered a bridge-builder of reconciliation amongst various ethnic and religious groups. He is a sought-after international speaker, addressing topics such as persevering leadership, reconciliation, community transformation, revival and more. He is host of A Word in Season with Doug Stringer & Friends, with new programs posted weekly on the Charisma Podcast Network.
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