Scripture teaches us how important it is for us to give thanks to God; but we should not only give thanks for what He has done in the past, we should also give thanks for what He is yet to do in the future! Paul speaks of this in Philippians 4:4-7 where he first encourages us to “rejoice in the Lord always”. He then states in verse six that we are not to be anxious about anything but that in every situation “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving” we are to present our requests to God. It is then that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.
No matter our circumstances, we can rejoice by focusing on the Lord. He is with us. He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. Nothing is impossible for Him. We need not be anxious about anything because this loving and generous God has invited us to bring every situation to Him. Paul declares however, that it is “with thanksgiving, (that we are to) present (our) requests to God”. In other words, as we pray, bringing all manner of requests before Him, we are to thank Him in advance of seeing Him act!
In the most challenging times of my own life I try to remember that — to thank God for His answers in advance as I pray — and I would encourage you to do the same. Don’t be afraid to be specific in your requests either. I remember trying to teach my kids about prayer when we first came to America. They were small at the time — my son was just six and my daughter was five.
My husband had flown to America ahead of us to get things organized, and one morning the kids and I prayed over all that he would be doing. Knowing that he would soon be trying to purchase a car, I asked the children what they thought we should pray for. They decided that a kind of vehicle similar to their uncle’s would be best because it had seven seats so there’d always be room for friends. So, I asked my son to pray for us about that; and to my surprise, he launched into a very specific prayer thanking God again and again in advance for the lovely silver car their dad was going to get that had seven seats and lots of room for friends. It was a perfect illustration of presenting your request with thanksgiving to God.
Well, that evening my husband called and said, “Oh guess what? I bought the car today!” And my heart sank because I hadn’t had time to tell him about our son’s prayer. I hesitantly asked him what he had purchased and he told me a minivan with seven seats so we’d always have room for other people. I couldn’t believe it! And then I asked: “That’s great, but what color is it?” To which he replied, “Silver!!”
Our heavenly Father loves us. He hears us when we pray; and I’d encourage you to not only thank God for what He has done but also thank God in advance for what He will do. That day I had planned to teach my children something about praying in faith and as it turned out, they taught me!
If you are a person who struggles to have peace, I want you to remember Paul’s words to us in Phil 4:7. When we have followed verse 6 — when we have thankfully laid our petitions and requests at His feet — then we will know verse 7: “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard (our) hearts and (our) minds in Christ Jesus.” We may not get the exact answer we wanted; but once we’ve prayed, our hearts can be at peace, knowing that He cares for us and will not withhold anything that is for our good and His glory. Rejoice. Pray with thanksgiving. Be at peace.
May God bless you!