Prayers & Praise: Psalms of Thanksgiving
“I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing Your praise before the heavenly beings.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple
and give thanks to Your name
for Your constant love and truth.
You have exalted Your name
and Your promise above everything else.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You increased strength within me.
All the kings on earth will give You thanks, Lord,
when they hear what You have promised.
They will sing of the Lord’s ways,
for the Lord’s glory is great.
Though the Lord is exalted,
He takes note of the humble;
but He knows the haughty from a distance.
If I walk into the thick of danger,
You will preserve my life
from the anger of my enemies.
You will extend Your hand;
Your right hand will save me.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Lord, Your love is eternal;
do not abandon the work of Your hands.”
I am ashamed of how often I forget to pause in the midst of my crazy life and give thanks to God. We all have so many reason to be thankful, and if for a second you think that you don’t, just go back to the basics: life, shelter, nourishment, sunshine, changing leaves… the list truly goes on and on.
Scripture is full of verses exhorting us to come before the Lord with thankful hearts. (Look for yourself: 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 1 Chronicles 16:34 & Colossians 3:17) And perhaps it is packed even fuller with the reasons we have to thank Him.
I like to break these “reasons to be thankful” down into two main categories:
- Who God is
- What God has done for us
The Psalms are packed full of praise and adoration for who God is in and of Himself. His perfect, omnipotent, eternal nature alone is worthy of our praise. He is Creator, Sustainer, King and Father. The beauty in nature, and the glimpses we get into His plan for the world, only hint to His glorious nature, and into the person of the Almighty God in whom all else lives and moves and finds its being.
And then there is all that He has done for us, and this list especially is far more numerous than we likely realize. There are certain things He has done for all of us, such as keeping His promises, giving us purpose and of course, sacrificing His only Son to purchase our salvation and eternity with Him.
But there are also unique things He has done in each of our specific lives that give us reasons to be thankful. Perhaps He obviously answered a prayer in your life, or maybe He came through in delivering you from a difficult circumstance or situation. If you read Psalm 136 you will find a huge list of things the Lord had done in the lives of the Israelites, and an example of the priority that was given to remembering all that God had done, and setting aside intentional time to give Him praise.
That being said, happy times are not the only times we are told to thank God. As we found when studying Psalms of Lament, often we find praises being sung to God in the midst of some biblical characters’ toughest times.
What do you have to be thankful for in hard times you ask? Well for me, it took going through a very difficult season in life to tap into some of the deepest prayers of gratitude I have ever uttered. It took feeling failed by every other aspect of the world around me to notice the contrast of how trustworthy, consistent and caring God really was. I thanked him because He is faithful. Always. And it took walking through something that forced me to fully rely on Him to realize how dependent I am on His provision, comfort and deliverance. I thanked God because I was helpless, and truly saw all that He did for me. How can you recognize His provision if you have never been in need?
We have reason to be thankful to God in good times, and we have reason to be thankful in hard times. May we continue to discipline ourselves to pause and recognize the splendor of who God is, to realize all that He has done for us, and to praise Him for all that He will continue to do in our lives for His glory!
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.
His faithful love endures forever!”