Tag Archives: Bible

Thanksgiving: Gateway to Answered Prayer (Part 1)

A couple of weeks ago, I shared in my post, Thanking My Way to Gladness, what I have been learning personally about the benefits of having a thankful heart.  Today, I’d like to go a little deeper into that topic, based on what I am continuing to learn.

There are many Bible verses that talk about thanksgiving.  We all know that we are supposed to thank God  for Who He is and for all that He does for us.  Sometimes we might feel a little guilty, knowing we don’t always remember to thank Him as we should.  Thanksgiving brings glory to Him: “…  that the abundant grace might, through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).

But God has been showing me another dimension of thanksgiving, beyond it being our proper response to God’s goodness:

It is a gateway to answered prayer.

Scripture clearly links thankfulness with prayer, as we shall see.  I’m not talking about thanking Him once the desired answer shows up on our doorstep.  Of course we should do that.  I’m talking about thanking Him before the answer arrives.  There is a reason this makes sense.

Philippians 4:6, 7 tells us, “Do not be care-filled about anything; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

This verse is not only referring to thanking God for past answers or in a general way for His goodness.  Some people do that as a sort of ritual, to butter God up so that He will answer their current prayer.  That’s not sincere, and I have an idea that it grieves Father’s heart.  (How would you feel if your children cozied up to you and gushed all over you, just so they could get something out of you?)  Now, when I am petitioning God for things, I do thank Him for all His past faithfulness and for His goodness — but it is out of true gratefulness, not to hoodwink Him into giving me the next item that I want or need.  And it builds my faith to remind myself of past answered prayer, too.

Philippians 4:6 is actually talking about thanking Him for the current thing we are requesting.  Why would we do that, if we haven’t gotten it yet?  1 John 5:14, 15 gives us a clue: And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. and if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”   We thank Him because the answer is already ours the very moment we ask — even though it may take a little time to evidence itself in our natural realm.  We have confidence that He has heard and has answered, because He promised that if we would ask anything in His name, He would do it for us (John 14: 13, 14).  We thank Him because our answer is already a reality.

Apostle Paul clearly linked prayer and thanksgiving together, in Colossians 4:2: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” 

And when teaching on speaking in tongues, he had this to say: … When you bless with the spirit, how shall he who is unlearned say ‘Amen’ to your giving of thanks, seeing he does not understand what you are saying?  For you truly give thanks well, but the other is not edified” (1 Corinthians 14:16, 17).

When we speak in tongues, whether publicly or in private prayer, thanksgiving is at least part of what we are speaking.  When we use our prayer language as part of our petitioning, the Holy Spirit is releasing perfect prayers through us (see Romans 8:26, 27  and also my series, The Power of Your Prayer Language).  Much of what He is praying through us is thanksgiving, and although we cannot say for sure, it is highly possible that the thanksgiving we are thus sending heavenward is in connection with our current petition. 

Next time, I’d like to share with you a story in the Bible that further illustrates thanksgiving as a gateway to answered prayer.  It was something I had never seen before, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

Next: Part 2

Soaking Prayer Journey, Part 1

I’ve been trying to discipline myself to do “soaking prayer” for many months now.  Basically, soaking prayer is quieting oneself before the Lord for an extended period of time for the purpose of intimate contact with Him, giving Him the opportunity to speak.  It hasn’t always been a fun adventure for me.  Sometimes it’s so frustrating that I want to permanently pitch the whole idea out the window.

My particular circle of Christianity is the charismatic, prophetic community.  Most of the people around me insist that soaking prayer is a must, if one does not want to be a pygmy Christian.  I’m not so sure they are completely right.  The following five-part series explains what soaking prayer is and how my own experience with it has been to date.

Soaking prayer became very popular during the Toronto Blessing revival, but it’s really been around as long as the Church has.  Some people weird out about it, thinking it is “meditation” or “mysticism” and therefore it’s Eastern religion, not Christian.  Soaking prayer is not yoga and such things, however. Psalm  104:34 says, “My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.”   And Genesis 24:63 tells us Isaac was “meditating in the field” when he first met Rebekah.  There are lots more references in the Bible to meditating on God and on His Word.  And, if you use a concordance to look up words like “mystery” and “mysteries” in the New Testament, you will find that Jesus and the apostles spoke frequently about the mysteries of the Kingdom, or the “hidden wisdom.”  So “mysticism” — which involves mysteries (hidden things) — is not necessarily bad.

I’ve heard many ideas from a variety of  people about this type of prayer.  Sometimes it has sounded very ooky-spooky, depending on who was talking about it.  I’m finding that there are some expert soakers that I trust, and some that I do not, based on what I see happening in their lives.  The people who are balanced, godly people, who exhibit wisdom and grace, I listen to.  Those who are not showing the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, I do not like to listen to — no matter how stupendous their heavenly experiences sound.

I am mystified by people who are into soaking prayer for hours a day and say they are seeing all sorts of heavenly visions, but they do NOT exhibit Christ-likeness.  There must be some kind of disconnect going on in their lives that is not normal.  If we are truly connecting with God, and seeing into His supernatural realm, our lives should be changing.  When Isaiah saw the Lord (Isaiah 6:1-8) he said he became “undone.”  I hear that phrase thrown around a lot.  I don’t think, for Isaiah, that being “undone” was a momentary experience of chills and thrills.  It was a life-changing deal.  He took on a new purity.  The revelation of God’s holiness became a deposit of holiness in Isaiah himself.  Encounters with The Holy One should mean we take on a measure of the character of Jesus.  Transformation into His likeness should be the fruit of spending great amounts of time with Him.  This seems pretty basic to me.

I think sometimes the problem is that some of the expert soakers are not spending much time reading the Bible.  I mean reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, not just the portions that talk about heavenly visions (like Revelation and Ezekiel).  I like spending time with the Lord in prayer.  But I also know I need to commune with Him through His Word.  Sometimes in reading my Bible, I sense God is speaking directly to me through a verse or passage.  Sometimes I go for days where that direct speaking is not the case, but I am still learning general concepts that I need to be reminded of.  For instance, God talks a lot about how to relate in a godly fashion toward other people, especially in the New Testament letters to the Church.  I don’t always feel like God is giving me special, personal conviction or instruction when I read the Bible, but He is still speaking to me.  I am taking in His way, His concepts.  I still become like Him by absorbing these truths in a general way on a regular basis.

All Bible reading need not take us up into heavenly visions in order to be productive in our lives.  I don’t believe all time spent in prayer communion with God must necessarily involve heavenly visions, either.  It’s about Him, not about what glorious visions we can get out of Him — which is where I’ll pick up next time.

Next — Soaking Prayer Journey, Part 2

 Full Gospel Family Publications                      Character Building for Families