Thanksgiving isn’t just for one day a year. Thankfulness is a means of honoring God, and a valuable part of our prayer lives.
In Romans 12:12, as part of a longer list of attributes, Paul says, “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” We are not hopeless, in any situation. Even in tribulation and trying times, during Covid-19, presidential elections, social unrest, job loss, family struggles and strife, we have hope. And, especially during these times, we should devote ourselves to prayer. The tribulations of the world, the shaking of all the tangible things around us, are a reminder to hold on to the eternal. Now more than ever we need to set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth.
Sometimes I struggle to stay focused for very long when praying.
- Especially when there are so many things bombarding my five senses, it is hard to focus on less tangible things. I forget I have a sixth sense called faith, by which to experience spiritual realities. I have found thanksgiving to be a crucial part of exercising and expressing my faith, and staying focused on God and spiritual truths.
- Then, there are times I am determined to pray, but as I do, I find myself falling asleep. I’ve found thanksgiving to be a helpful way of keeping my mind alert at those times, too.
- And, to be praying, and thankful for what I’m praying for, stirs my heart to trust God for the answers. (More on that next time.)
I believe that is what Paul was alluding to as well when he said, in Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.”
So, let Thanksgiving Day be a new beginning for you. Let it be the turning point in 2020. With all that is going on, with all the shaking and uncertainty and discomfort and pain and loss, let go of the temporal. Don’t just say you’re thankful for this or that. Truly let your heart flow toward the Father and be thankful for His lavish love and grace. Be thankful that He never leaves you or forsakes you. Be thankful for His relentless tenderness. Embrace His love with a thankful heart, and by faith, begin to devote yourself to prayer. When the world tries to distract, or you eyelids get heavy, stay alert with thanksgiving.