Day 6 :: Prayer Filled With Praise (Excerpt taken and modified from How to Pray: What the Bible Tells Us About Genuine, Effective Prayer by R.A. Torrey)
There are two words often overlooked in the lesson about prayer that Paul gives us in Philippians 4:6-7: Be anxious for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. The two important words often overlooked arewith thanksgiving.
In approaching God to ask for new blessings, we should never forget to return thanks for blessings already granted. If any of us would stop and think about how many of the prayers we have offered to God have been answered, and how seldom we have gone back to God to return thanks for the answers given, I’m sure we would be overwhelmed with remorse. We should be just as direct in giving thanks as we are in prayer. We come to God with very specific needs and requests, but when we give thanks to Him, our thanksgiving is vague and general. Undoubtedly, one reason why so many of our prayers lack power is because we have neglected to thank God for blessings already received. If anyone were to constantly come to us and ask us for help but would never thank us for helping them, we would soon get tired of helping someone so ungrateful. Indeed, we would soon stop helping them, if only to discourage such ingratitude.
Returning thanks for blessings already received increases our faith and enables us to approach God with new boldness and new assurance. Undoubtedly, the reason so many have so little faith when they pray is because they take so little time to meditate upon and thank God for blessings already received. As we meditate upon the answers to prayers already granted, our faith grows bolder and bolder, and we come to feel in the very depths of our souls that there is nothing too difficult for the Lord. As we reflect on the one hand upon the wondrous goodness of God toward us, and on the other hand upon the little thought, strength, and time we put into thanksgiving, we may well humble ourselves before God and confess our sin.
The mighty men and women of prayer in the Bible, and the mighty men and women of prayer throughout the ages of the church’s history, have been men and women who were much given to thanksgiving and praise. David was a mighty man of prayer, and his psalms abound with thanksgiving and praise. The apostles were mighty men of prayer, and we read that they were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God (Luke 24:53). Paul was a mighty man of prayer, and often in his epistles he breaks out in specific thanksgiving to God for specific blessings and specific answers to prayers.
Jesus is our model in prayer as in everything else. We find in the study of His life that His manner of returning thanks at the simplest meal was so noticeable that two of His disciples recognized Him by this after His resurrection. And it came to pass as he sat at the table with them, he took bread and blessed it and broke and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him (Luke 24:30-31). Thanksgiving is one of the inevitable results of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and one who does not learn to give thanks in everythingcannot continue to pray in the Spirit (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18) If we want to learn to pray with power, we would do well to let these two words sink deep into our hearts: with thanksgiving.