house of prayer – Sept 18 – Importance of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is not just an optional extra or prelude to the more important matters of praise and worship. It is a vital ingredient in maintaining a healthy relationship with God. Consider the importance of thanksgiving in human relationships, the pleasure it brings to a parent or the good feeling it fosters when drivers express appreciation on the road. Conversely, how it rankles when people don’t do it, giving a feeling of being taken for granted.
1. In the old testament, it was one of the offerings to be made regularly in the tabernacle/temple (Lev 7:12).
It was a voluntary act of worship. It is one of the prescribed sacrifices, whose purpose was to maintain fellowship. So there are mentions of the “sacrifice of thanksgiving.”
Ps 50:14: “offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.”
Ps 50:23: it honours God. Words of thanksgiving go directly into the presence of God and are immediately accepted by Him.
Ps 116:17: “to you I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord.”
2. The incense (Ex 30:34-37), symbolic of prayer (see Revelation), was composed of several ingredients.
We see several ingredients as Paul talks about prayer: Phil 4:6: “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Eph 6:18: “with all [kinds of] prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.”
An authentic prayer life will consist of all types of prayer.
3. It reminds us of what God has done for us, and so recognizes his covenant faithfulness.
Like Israel in the OT we have the privilege of being God’s chosen people, a unique relationship. Ps 103: “bless the Lord O my soul, and forget none of his benefits.” Ps 107:22: also mentions the sacrifice of thanksgiving, with a list of impossible situations where God intervened.
4. It fosters a heart of gratitude.
Col 3:15: “let the peace rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” It brings peace. Antidote to complaining. Protection against the enemy’s whisper, “God doesn’t care.”
5. It expresses our dependence on God.
Thanksgiving recognises that everything we have and are is due to God’s provision and goodness. Eph 5:20: “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” 1 Thess 5:18: “in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” How can God expect that we shall always be thankful, given difficult circumstances, times of need, etc.? Because of the cross, by which God has given to us the ultimate that we need, and it is always freely available. So thanksgiving increases faith in a time of need.
6. It helps us start praying if we are struggling.
Ps 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” In the book “Entering the presence of God”, Derek Prince notes that this verse is a step towards the Holy of Holies, worshipping God in his holiness. If we are struggling to start praying, start with thanksgiving (Count your blessings, name them one by one).
7. The thank offering is also our yielding to God in response for what he has done for us
Rom 12:1 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”
Let’s read Psalm 116 together, and then spend a few moments expressing our gratitude to God.