What do your prayers sound like? Do they follow a pretty regular format? Have you ever stopped to listen to how you pray and the types of prayers you lift up from day to day?
I want to challenge you to do just that. You see, I took on this exact exercise a few years back and it really made me stop and think about what a healthy prayer life looks like. The fact is, the first thing I realized was that a majority of my time spent in prayer was focused primarily on petition. It was about what I needed, or what those around me needed, and what I quickly realized was… I rarely, if ever, stopped to simply thank God for all he had and would do for me.
When I realized this, I dedicated myself to digging into scripture, studying all kinds of passages on prayer. I studied the Lord’s prayer and the example Jesus gave us. I looked at David and the incredible prayer warrior He must have been. The exercise really stretched me and today I can tell you it has improved my prayer life ten-fold. However, the outcome that has proved to be the most refreshing out of the entire experience was a new-found focus on always coming before the Lord with thanksgiving. In Psalm 100:4-5a it states,
“Give thanks as you enter the gates of his temple. Give praise as you enter its courtyards. Give thanks to him and praise his name. The LORD is good. His faithful love continues forever.”
What a privilege it is that we have the opportunity to actually enter into the real, and metaphorical, gates of His temple. What a privilege it is to spend time in His courtyards. What a privilege it is that we not only know Him, but that we can praise Him with full adoration whenever we please because He is indeed faithful and His love does endure forever. When you pray, do you thank the Lord for what He did 2000 years ago on the cross? Do you thank Him for what he did 20 minutes ago, simply giving you the breath of life? Do you thank Him for everything in between? It’s so easy to get caught up in the pain and struggles of our everyday lives. If we aren’t tending towards anger over our circumstances, we certainly are more focused on getting whatever ails us changed. Instead, Philippians 4:6 challenges us to enter into our prayer life with a different kind of mindset,
“Don’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him.”
What would happen if instead of simply coming in petition for our needs, or the needs of others, we made a drastic decision – we decided that we would open every prayer with a time dedicated to thanking God for whatever He puts upon your heart? Do you think it would change your prayer life? Or might it even change your demeanor all together? Years ago I decided to do just that and I can be a testimony of how life-altering it is to really worship the Lord through prayers of thanksgiving. It has drawn me closer to Him and it has improved my everyday outlook as I am now forced to see not only the bad in my life, but how His good and faithful love shows up all the time. Isaiah 12:4b says,
“Give thanks to the LORD. Worship him. Tell the nations what he has done. Announce how honored he is.”
How honored he is…. what a beautiful and bold statement. Today I challenge you today to make a decision to bring more thanksgiving into your prayer life and begin honoring Him more on a regular basis. Stop and take a look at how He is impacting you each and everyday – thank Him for his wonderful grace and, If nothing else, thank Him for all He did for you upon the cross some 2000 years ago. And whether you realize you haven’t been praising God at all as you pray, or like myself you have made a conscience effort to be thankful, we can ALWAYS show Him more adoration. So today – stop, commit, and pray – make a determination that your prayers will continue to show God more glory and be marked by a thankful spirit – praising Him always.