Call upon God, adore, confess,
Petition, plead, and then declare
You are the Lord’s; give thanks and bless,
And let the Amen confirm the prayer.
One of the items of prayer in this poem by the famous hymnist Isaac Watts (1674–1748) is to “give thanks.” Numerous passages in the Bible command us to give thanks to God, and 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is all-encompassing: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Are you in Christ Jesus? Do you desire to do the will of God? Whatever your circumstances may be, give thanks to God. In his book A Guide to Prayer (1716), Watts explains thanksgiving in prayer as taking place in two ways.
First, we should thank God for the good He gives us apart from our having asked for such. Among the infinite blessings He grants to us, we can thank Him for being made in His image and the means of salvation that were provided for us as sinners who could do nothing for ourselves. We can thank Him for daily protection and His countless mercies which are new every day. We can thank Him for food, shelter, and clothing and the luxuries of life beyond these simple things with which we should be content (cf. 1 Timothy 6:8).
Second, we should thank God for the good He gives us in answer to our specific requests in prayer. We often think to pray when we are in need and desire His help in some way. But how often do we stop and think to look back and see how He has specifically answered our prayers? Some people keep a written list of prayer requests and keep a column next to the requests to record when they have been answered. Others keep journals. At the least, we should pause in prayer to reflect upon how God has been good to us, note where this goodness is in specific answer to prayer, and give God thanks accordingly.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (Psalm 100:4).
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.