I Prayed have prayed
Lord, we know that the holidays are hard for many. Help us to remember those things for which we've got reason to be thankful.

We are in the season of giving thanks. The secular world sees family and friends gathering to share delicious food and community. Believers do the same and also remember the Pilgrim settlers in America who first celebrated the giving of thanks to the Lord. That Thanksgiving was a time of celebration, prayer, peace, and worship as the Pilgrims thanked God for helping them survive their journey to a new land offering new opportunities — though it cost them much. In our times, Thanksgiving Day seems to be losing its appeal, as Black Friday TV commercials and sales all too immediately push past the day. But we must never forget the power and benefits of true gratitude. Thanksgiving should be so much more to us than just one day per year. Thankfulness should be the lifestyle of every believer in Christ. 

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Christians understand gratitude plainly enough, but this is so much harder for those who may be struggling during the holidays. TV commercials showing happy families assembling together or social media posts flooded with family photos tend to generate warm feelings. But many will feel the loneliness of remembering loved ones who have passed away. Some families are broken and will not be spending the holidays together at all. This can be a difficult time for people who are suffering. It’s easy to be thankful and to offer up praise when everything is going well for us. The challenge comes when we try to give thanks amid heartbreak, loneliness, or trouble. 

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds (Psalm 9:1 ESV).

Recount and Remember

I remember the old hymn titled “Count Your Blessings”: 

Count your blessings, name them one by one; count your blessings, see what God hath done … ”

That’s part of the refrain or chorus, but the verse lyrics are a reminder to recall what God has done for us even in the midst of our trials: 

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost; count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

Have you ever felt that way — as if “all is lost”? Well, let’s recall the goodness of God together by reading from one of my favorite psalms:

Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:1–5).

In this list are the benefits of the Lord that became yours upon salvation: You are forgiven because He is your Redeemer. Healing is yours because He is your Healer. As if that weren’t enough, He also crowns you with His love and tender mercies, which are new every morning. Once you have tasted the graciousness of God, nothing less will ever satisfy you. Another beautiful picture is the crown itself: A crown represents authority; when life gets tough, remember who you are and to whom you belong! You are a child of the Most High.

The LORD executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:6–14).

The Lord is a righteous and just God. We can thank Him that He is not at all like us. Though it might look like injustice is winning, we are assured that there will one day be a reckoning, and those who have sown evil will reap it. He makes His ways known to us. The Israelites knew the acts of God, but Moses cried out to know God’s ways. He will make His ways known to you; that is His character. He is full of mercy and grace towards us. He doesn’t deal with us according to our sins or punish us. He removes our transgressions as high as the heavens are and as far as the east is from the west. He is compassionate towards us like a father is to his children. Even if you were to feel that you had nothing at all to be thankful for, this very act of salvation would be reason enough. The fact that Jesus died in our place, becoming guilty so that we might become the righteousness of God (see 2 Corinthians 5:21), is a reason to praise. The wages of sin is death, but God didn’t give us what we deserved; that’s called mercy. Instead, we receive the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord (see Romans 6:23). God has given us more than we could ever imagine; that’s called grace

Can we pause here to praise His name and to thank Him? Being grateful helps us fix our spiritual eyes back where they belong: on the Lord. It places Him at the center of our lives, where He rightfully belongs. Here are a few of the benefits of gratitude as cited in Scripture: 

Gratitude produces the peace of God. Remember, Jesus said He gives us peace, unlike what the world offers (see John 14:27). Wordly peace is the absence of conflict. God’s peace is His presence with you in the midst of conflicts. Do you need peace for your troubled mind? Try giving thanks to God. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6–7 NIV).

Gratitude produces true contentment. The Bible says that godliness with contentment is great gain. We’ve brought nothing into this world, 1 Timothy 6 says, so if we’ve got food and clothing, we should still be content. People with an ungodly obsession for more than that end up falling into temptation and getting entangled in greed. Why should we ask for more from God if we can’t be thankful even for what we already have? We can find true contentment with God, and we can achieve this through gratitude.

Gratitude produces joy. Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms (Psalm 95:1–2).

Joy and happiness are not the same. Happiness is often circumstantial and based on our emotions, which can quickly change. But joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and comes from the Lord. Do you find your joy lacking? I know I have felt this way before. Lift a song of praise to God. Before you enter His Presence with your prayer list, enter with thanksgiving. It will shift your focus onto Him. This will cultivate the fruit of joy in your life, and the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Gratitude is a testimony about God to others. But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:14 ESV).

When you exhibit an attitude of gratitude, it becomes a testimony to others. Have you ever seen a believer who has lived through some heartbreak or tragedy and yet can be heard worshiping and praising? That is a living testimony to the goodness of God. 

Gratitude is God’s will for you. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).

It’s not uncommon to hear young believers say they do not know God’s will for their lives. Aside from seeking God through persistent prayer, one way to come to know His will is to be thankful. Remember, when we can thank Him in all things, that’s obedience, and being obedient will keep us in His will for our lives. 

The Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving

In the Old Testament, sacrificial offerings were given with thanksgiving (see Leviticus 7:11–15). In the New Testament, literal sacrifices are no longer necessary, as Christ Himself has become the ultimate sacrifice. However, our own lives as surrendered to the Lord are a living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1). I understand the Old Testament aspect of offering, because it was literal. But Hebrews 13:15 talks about continually offering up a sacrifice of praise, as the fruit of our lips acknowledging His name. In the New Testament, your praise and thanksgiving are an offering to God. It becomes a sacrifice to God when you can praise Him and remain thankful even when you’re hurting or facing a storm. The thing about sacrifices is that they were costly. There will be times when you don’t feel like praising, worshipping, or thanking God. When you do it anyway, it is a precious sacrifice to God. 

Life as a Christian isn’t always going to be roses. It can sometimes be lonely and tumultuous, but You will never be walking alone. The Lord is faithful to keep His promises, and He has promised to be with us even until the end. I pray that you will remember this — and not only during this Thanksgiving season, but also continually. You are not alone. I pray that whatever you may be dealing with, you will remember: As long as you have Jesus, you have a reason to remain hopeful and thankful.

Will you continue to give thanks? 

The sacrifice that honors me is a thankful heart. Obey me, and I, your God, will show my power to save (Psalm 50:23 CEV).

Share in the comments below what you are thankful for.

IFA contributing writer Gloria Robles is a passionate intercessor with a prophetic voice for today. For more from Gloria, go to Spotify or Anchor and listen to her podcast, Something To Share. Photo Credit: itsmejust/Getty Images.

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Barbara Janicki
November 23, 2023

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Thank you for this article – there is always something to be thankful for – I love that hymn, “Count Your Blessings” – when I do, I am always “surprised at what God has done” and is doing – He is always at work bringing about His perfect will in this world. And He does it in spite of having only imperfect people to work through!

We are told to “give thanks in all circumstances” – not just when things are going well. When I do, I find the act of giving thanks shifts my focus onto my Heavenly Father, the giver of “every good and perfect gift.” There is always something to give thanks for. I am reminded of Corrie Ten Boom’s account in her book, “The Hiding Place” when she gave God thanks for the fleas in their barracks because the guards avoided that area because of the fleas, allowing her and others to do their Bible study without being noticed. Lord, may I recognize and be thankful for Your everpresent, undeserved blessings every day, not just today. http://www.mtothe5th.wordpress.com

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Sunny
November 23, 2023

I spend this day alone but not alone because my best friend, Jesus, is with me. Who could ask for more!?

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Joanne DeBord
November 23, 2023

I am thankful that you love me, Lord, though I am so unworthy of your love, your forgiveness, and your grace. When I needed family, when I was homeless, when I was lost, you were there. Thank you for my Christian grandparents, whose daily prayers contributed to the salvation of my Mom, my siblings, myself. Praise you Jesus!

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    Gloria Robles
    November 23, 2023

    Wow what a testimony! thank you for sharing.

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Darlene Estlow
November 22, 2023

Thank you for reminding us that we have so much to be thankful for even when things aren’t going well. We worship a sovereign God who acts in wisdom and love. We can trust him. And that is worth much thanksgiving!

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NanJohnson
November 22, 2023

Let Psalm 103: 1-5 and Psalm 103: 6-14 become part of our daily prayers!! Praying scripture is very wonderful and life-changing. It helps us focus on God’s truth all through the day and live His Way undistracted by the world. Another benefit is you find yourself with memorized scripture!! 🙏 Psalm 119:11 “You word I have hidden in my heart,That I might not sin against you. “ 🎚

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NanJohnson
November 22, 2023

Let Psalm 103: 1-5 and Psalm 103: 6-14 become part of our daily prayers!! Praying scripture is very wonderful and life-changing. It helps us focus on God’s truth all through the day and live His Way undistracted by the world. Another benefit is you find yourself with memorized scripture!! 🙏

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Mary Beth
November 22, 2023

May you have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

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Mary Beth
November 22, 2023

Yes, Gloria – the test of a true worshipper is whether praise and thanksgiving are offered up in the difficult and painful times. It is a refining and purifying time!

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William Sanderson II
November 22, 2023

The gift of Jesus His Son. Knowing that God loves us and only wants the best for us as we toil through this tumultuous world. Eternity will bring us peace, joy, and contentment. Eternity is a very long time.

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Ron Glenn Deere
November 22, 2023

Isaiah 59:19 says, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up an ensign against him.” An “ensign” is a kind of “standing stone” of God’s grace. In our dispensation, CHRIST is our standing stone, hallelujah. He is this regardless of our station in life. This might well be the ONLY good thing in our lives at this point, however, THIS trumps all ills. This is why the Lord had the nation of Israel to look at the Bronze Serpent to be healed of their snake bites. This was a precursor of Christ being held up for all of us to look to – especially when we need to.

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Blanca
November 22, 2023

We have decided that every day is a thanksgiving feast of gratitude: for our family members in past gone to be with the LORD JESUS, present who are with us day in day out and future generations to come as a gift from GOD Almighty: like Job 🙏: blessing: also praying for leaders in all types of authority; praying for our enemies that they will have their hearts touched unto forgiveness by JESUS : giving thanks all time and seeing our prayers answered.

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Bob Huseby
November 22, 2023

Ms Gloria thank you so much for the powerful reminder that we are NEVER alone!!
HaHa Hallelujah!!!

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Amy
November 22, 2023

This was really beautiful. I am relatively new at praying, spontaneously. I’ve just turned 61! But I can tell you that even the baby steps I’ve been taking, it has made a huge difference in my life. Your words on “joy” describe it perfectly. Thank you so much for sharing. God Bless.

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