While God loves to give good things to those who ask him (Matt. 7:11), we deserve none of these good things. A sense of entitlement diminishes our enjoyment of the good things in our lives and draws us away from God. In a world where entitlement is ingrained in culture, striving for ever more things (whether they are good things or not) becomes all too natural. Therefore, giving thanks in prayer for the things that we have, and the things we have been spared from, leads to a beneficial change in mindset. We are urged not to ‘conform’ but to ‘be transformed, by the renewal of our minds‘ (Rom. 12:2).
A thankful heart when making requests of God reminds us of the times when God has provided for us and gives us faith for further trial.
If you’re struggling to find things to be thankful for, take heart. Sometimes the world around us, and our experiences in it, overshadow our gratitude. Humility and submission – the acceptance that we don’t come first and that God’s will is more important than ours – are scary thoughts. If this is the case, go back to basics. Maybe you have a roof over your head – give thanks. Maybe you have enough food to eat today – give thanks. Maybe you can turn on a tap and receive clean water – give thanks. Every good and perfect gift is from above (Jam. 1:17).
Or maybe you have too many things, so much so that the material takes up more of your thoughts than the spiritual. Ecclesiastes warns that ‘whoever loves wealth is never satisfied’ (Eccles. 5:10); a sense of contentment will never be found in the signs of wealth around you. But be reassured that being thankful even for the material things in life will bring you closer to an appreciation of the nature of God, and motivate you to spend more time with him.
If you’re struggling to find things to be thankful for, take heart. Sometimes the world around us, and our experiences in it, overshadow our gratitude.
The Bible also reminds us to give thanks when asking God to ease our anxieties. We are promised peace as a result (Phil. 4:6-7). A thankful heart when making requests of God reminds us of the times when God has provided for us and gives us faith for further trial.
Amy Doël, The Church of God in Birmingham