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Online Course

Session 4: Thanksgiving

How to Experience God in Prayer

Busyness, entitlement, envy, and greed can keep us from expressing our gratitude to the God who gives us every good gift. Being thankful honors God for the many blessings he has gifted to us.

Online Discipleship: How to Experience God in Prayer
Part 4: Thanksgiving

Welcome to session four on How to Experience God in Prayer. I have to say, it’s exciting for me just to walk through this process with you. So far, we have learned there are four distinct words in the New Testament for prayer. And they make an acronym ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.

By way of review, here’s our passage: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God,” and then here’s the promise, “and the peace of God,” the shalom of God, “that surpasses all understanding will,” literally, “guard,” or act as a sentry, as an arbitrator, “in your heart.”

It’s experiencing God. He invites you and me to be in conversation in the car, early in the morning, before we go to bed, and even while someone else is talking, we can talk to Him.

We have talked about the adoration, and we have talked about what it means to begin to confess honestly from our heart. The next phrase is: “with thanksgiving.” It’s a word that is compound. The first part of the word means: well. The second part of the word means: to give freely; gratitude. So it’s good or to be well. It’s to have thoughts and feelings of gratitude.

I love one commentator. He said, “This is like sprinkling salt and pepper on a meal.” You might be giving praise as I did this morning and, as I did, I just couldn’t help but to pause and say, “Oh, Lord, thank You for how You have made things.” Even as I was confessing early this morning and thinking about some things that kind of broke my heart, I remembered, “Oh, God, thank You. As far as the east is from the west, I am forgiven, I am Your son, You love me.”

But I think there’s a big role to give thanks. And let me tell you why this is so important. When you actively and proactively give thanks, it forces your focus off your problems. It forces your focus on who God really is.

In other words, when I am thanking God for everything and in everything – you heard me right – thanking God for everything and in everything. 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verses 16 through 18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks,” are you ready? “For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

So, it’s an act of the will; it’s not just feelings. It’s choosing, regardless of what is happening, where I say “thank you.” And to thank God for the good, for the difficult, for the unknown, for the big decision that you don’t know exactly what you should do, and for the challenging relationship.

This isn’t a play with your mind, “Oh, God, I thank You” like in my case, a few years ago, my wife had cancer. I didn’t say, “Oh, thank You” tritely. I said, “Thank You, God, that You are sovereign, that You are all-knowing, that You love my wife. I don’t know what is going to happen.” Thankfully, she came through it, but I could say, “Thank You”, because what I am now doing is I am surrendering and acknowledging an all-powerful, all-knowing God. It’s this practice of thanksgiving.
I don’t know about you but, when I wake up in the morning and I have a lot of pressure, or during the day when I feel overwhelmed, this has been my go-to prayer.

I have a little journal here. I know everyone doesn’t keep a journal but, for some of us that your mind wanders, you’re maybe a little ADD, that’s me. So most mornings I start with giving praise and thanking God. This is just a typical morning, a few mornings ago. Hebrews 13:15 came to my mind, “Through Him, then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

Lord, I thank You so much for how You have helped me this week in battling discouragement. Thank You, Jesus, for Theresa, her good health and how You are allowing her to experience energy and joy again (she had been sick.) Thank You for the news that my daughter is going to have a baby. Lord, thank You so much for Jerry and the incredible help (he’s a guy that I work with), and his kindness that he helped me line out my schedule for the whole year. Thank You for the motivation to swim and workout. (I had an injury in my back and I have got to work out and it’s hard.)

But here are two pages. It probably took me three or four minutes, but it was like a machine gun: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. And what it did is it altered my perspective.

In fact, the psalmist, we are going to give you a little psalm to learn how to thank God. Psalm 100, it says, “Shout joyfully for the Lord. Serve the Lord with gladness; come into His presence with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God. It is He who made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.” And then I love this, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise; give thanks to Him, bless His name.” Why? “For the Lord is good, His loving-kindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations.”

I want you to know that, when you are discouraged especially, that giving thanks, choosing to thank God, will change your perspective. You will begin to experience a peace that happens in your heart. Adoration, confession, thanksgiving – it’s how we respond to the difficulties, the struggles, and the challenges of life.

The Lord wants you to experience His kindness, His compassion, and His love. He says there is a way to pray to do that, and that’s what we are talking about.

I want you to practice thanksgiving until our next time and see if God doesn’t show up in a powerful way.

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46 comments on “Session 4: Thanksgiving

  1. I can feel entitlement at times and this lesson reminded me that Christ doesn’t owe me anything. In fact everything is a gift from Him. I was able to thank Him again for all His generosity at taking on my death, which I deserved, at the cross

  2. The Scripture selections on “thanksgiving” and the accompanying questions were paired perfectly. Each provided me with the opportunity to take the time to sit in silence, pray, & ponder at depth as I answered each question.

  3. Thank you for a beautiful session on ‘Thanksgiving’. I was prompted to thank the Lord afresh for His gift of salvation, His myriad of blessings, as well as for His grace in my disappointments and frustrations.

  4. I feel like my life is very busy at the moment. Quite overwhelming but it’s so nice to press pause and just say thank you. I was in my room smiling with a childlike grin and all of the cool things God has been doing in the past 48h and I’m convinced that the best is yet to come! Thank you God!!! And thank you to the LOTE crew for reminding me! God bless you all a hundred times more!!!

  5. This session was very helpful. It reminded me that thanksgiving takes our eyes off ourselves and places it on the One who is sovereign and in control.

  6. Truly helped me grow in my understanding of Prayer, directed me to a better path of understanding and awareness as I pray. Thank You Jesus for this opportunity and For Pastor Ingram. Amen

  7. Thankfully (no pun intended :-)) I have been blessed with a spirit of thankfulness for a long time! However, this study brought up a deeper consideration of how integral thanksgiving is to the complete walk with Christ. I had done the exercise years ago on legal pad, “count your blessings, name them one by one…” and the list could not ever be finished. Astonishing exercise!!! Thank you Chip… you were on my list of 25 along with other GREAT teachers of the word.

  8. I see things differently and a lot clearer. I’ve learned things that I didn’t know even though I’ve read those same scriptures at one time or another. This session has brought new meaning to prayer that I’ve never given prior thought to. I realize even more now that coming into God’s presence is a privilege that I had taken for granted. I’m more thankful than ever. I thank God for allowing me to come across this study. God bless you Mr. Chip.

  9. Thanking God for everything in my life is hard. I have been taught that in everything good or bad thank God. Listening to a child pray and thank God for the things that we take for granted can put us to shame. I need to focus more on thanking God for the mundane things in my life as well as the big important stuff.

  10. I Thes. says be thankful in everything. Not just the good stuff in your life. Be thankful in the difficult also. Lord help me to be thankful in the difficult situations.

  11. I appreciated Chip’s example of how to praise God even in a difficult situation, not to tritely thank god for the negative situation, but to thank God that he is sovereign and is going to walk through the difficult situation with you for my own growth and for his glory, regardless the outcome.

  12. By focusing on God ,which bring you peace,your relationship to others changes ;you see them through God’s eyes which causes
    you to be more forgiving , kind and loving in those relationships. Which brings you more peace which makes you more thankful to God. It also makes you bold to speak abmonishment in to their lives; truth in love is keeping their eternity always in the forefront and this is the power of God in us.

  13. Simple,,do able lessons YET each lesson has been deeper still, Holy Spirit empowered teaching, pondering, transforming. Thank you.

  14. I have often thought of myself as a thankful person, but this session showed me I have many more areas of thankfulness I can explore.

    1. What great insight! When it comes to our strengths, it can be difficult to accept that we can still improve in those areas.

  15. It has impacted me tremendously to be on mission to share the Gospel BECAUSE as I was thinking of how we can always be thankful, even in a tragedy it could have been worse – even in death we can be thankful for the Hope of seeing them in eternity. THAT is when the urgency of the Gospel and Salvation truly hit me! There is no Hope without Salvation and there is no Salvation without hearing the Gospel. I am thankful for the revelation of the urgency of sharing the Gospel.

  16. On the last page where it ask to describe a time when God helped me with an internal struggle, I’m reminded of the recent past when I was struggling with releasing mind issues over to let go of the constant though processes with family and internal struggles. God helped me to release all of it over to Him–more specifically giving me the instruction to sing…’At the Cross, at the Cross where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith, I received my sight and now I am happy all the day!’ I changed the words up to ‘At the Cross, at the Cross where I first saw the light and the burdens of my heart roll away. It is there faith I still receive my sight and continue to be happy today!’

    And I’m able to release the problem–the thought and focus on Hid and what He did for me come into mind and the other is gone. The focus is then on what he did for me, what he can do for me in each problem–in each new day and my heart is light and my burdens roll away!! Praise Him from whom all blessings flow!! Amen!!

  17. This session has really given me a clearer and deeper understanding of the role of thankfulness in speaking to God. Before this session my prayers were mainly about asking for, and very little thanking for. Thanks.

  18. It is just as Chip stated, an attitude of Thanksgiving, changes an entire prospective. An entire day or problem can be turned around just by thanking God for His goodness and His love and mercy! Praying the oil of gladness….the joy of our salvation. Just the wonderful benefit of being saved from the justice of my sins can change my entire way of thinking. I pray to grow in an attitude of thanksgiving and to pray it over others!!

  19. Thanks giving and praise is like life and breathe to me It keeps me in perspective and help me from complaining it allows me to draw near to God and anytime also I am reminded that enter into his presence with thanksgiving and to enter into his courts with praise. Also it helps the flow of prayer as there are times I sing and make a joyful noise until the Lord.

  20. This just gave me a breakthrough of what God’s best is for me. He is such a loving God with good plans. I need not despair! xo

  21. Well this is very difficult. First to make 25 things i am thankful for in my life is near impossible. I will try but i think i can only come up with 5. I am not someone who receives gifts well and that shows me that is a rejection of God. So i need to work on that but i don’t believe i am worthy to receive gifts from God.

    1. Thanks for your honesty! Personally, being thankful can be difficult because I’m more of a pessimist … I tend to focus on what needs to be fixed rather than what is already going great. When I practice this “step,” I start small. I’ll say to God, “Thanks for today, the ability to breathe and see and smell and hear and walk. Thanks for this chair that I’m sitting in…and the table and a place to spend some time with you…” When I start “small,” it’s easier for me to see the bigger things. Hope that helps!

  22. This session really made me think!! I spend so much of my prayer time asking God to bless and heal all the ones who are sick, mentally, physically, or emotionally. Praying for unsaved family members. Confession. BUT, starting with “thanking” God for ALL HE has done is usually a short list in those prayers. I intend to change that right now. Thank you, Chip.

  23. Writing out 25 things I was grateful for was fun and easy. Made it to 23 without a pause. Has reset the whole tone of my day! God has been most gracious and given me beyond the desires of my heart since I first delighted in Him!

  24. If I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, I’ll start will A and think of something that starts with A to thank God for. I never make it all the way through the alphabet before falling asleep.

  25. A major point Chip made was that we should thank God IN and FOR everything. This is sometimes very hard to do, depending on the circumstances, but is critical to our prayer life and relationship to God.

  26. LOVE THE SCRIPTURES AND THE ACRONYM THAT IS NOW THE MODEL FOR MY PRAYERS. THESE SESSIONS ARE COMPACT AND BRIEF ENOUGH SO THAT THEY ARE NOT OVERWHELMING, BUT STILL DEEP ENOUGH WITH MORE THAN ADEQUATE INFORMATION TO MAKE A REAL IMPACT ON MY PRAYER LIFE. SO THANKFUL FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY.

  27. In giving thanksgiving, I am reminded of the goodness of God and all that He has done for me. This shifts my perspective of what I am going through which, in turn, brings me to a point of praise and thankfulness.

  28. Many of my worship songs are songs of thanksgiving. As Chip notes, as we adore God we are often led to thank Him for how good He is and how He has blessed us. Thanksgiving brings a right perspective.

  29. Writing down what I am thankful for was such a wonderful reminder that God is trustworthy. It brought me peace to know I can trust Him even in the hard times.

  30. This session is a great reminder that giving thanks is completely not about me. It’s about the greatness and sufficiency of our God.

  31. It is amazing how taking time to think about the things in your life you are thankful for really changes your perspective. I love how it takes the focus off your problems.

  32. I agree with Chip, giving thanks really does change your view, you see everything in a new light. Very helpful to list them out!

  33. As Chip said, choosing to thank God in every situation, despite my feelings, reminds me that He is in complete control and loves me.

  34. I needed the reminder today to praise God in the process and to thank Him for everything He provides fro me. Thanks to the list I found I had far more than I thought to praise Him for today!

  35. This was such a great reminder! I’m thankful for so many people and things in my life, but I found it so beneficial to actually write them all down.

  36. I also like the idea of writing out things that we are thankful for. I already have a journal with some of the big blessings from God over the past few years. It is so encouraging to go back and read them and be thankful.

  37. I love giving thanks to God! I will follow Chip’s great example of writing down what I’m thankful for each day so I can look back and see God’s faithfulness in everything.

  38. I fall asleep every night saying what I am thankful for. Even down to the comfortable bed. I often think about other countries where something as simple as a bed is an extreme luxury.

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