Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Attitude of Thanksgiving



Continue in prayer,
and watch in the same
with Thanksgiving; Colossians 4:2

Paul tells us to devote ourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.

How are we to have an alert mind and to be watchful in our prayers?
… And why is it important for us to have a thankful heart?

I have taught on this verse previously but when we seem stuck in such uncertain and seemingly hopeless times ...

it is important for us all to re-adjust our focus …

especially on Thanksgiving Day.

Let’s take this verse one point at a time …

Continue in prayer.

For me, an example that best demonstrates the effectiveness of this Truth is made clear in Daniel. He had been in Babylonian captivity for nearly 70 years and continued to pray three times daily for God's guidance and the deliverance of Israel. At one point, Daniel had been praying for three full weeks continually and when an angel came to answer his prayers, and the messenger explained the following to Daniel:
“Then said he to me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that you did set your heart to understand and to chasten yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I am come for your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, see, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make you understand what shall befall your people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days. Daniel 10:12-14

The Truth revealed here is amazing. Daniel was first told: to fear not. Then it is made clear that his prayer was heard, from the very first day that he set his heart to understand … his prayers were heard. But the angel was held up in some sort of supernatural battle with the leader of the spiritual forces of evil. God sent reinforcements but it took twenty one days for him to get to Daniel with God’s answer. The angel then explained the answers to Daniel's prayers and much much more about God's plan for Israel, and all of mankind from that day forward through the final days.

We need to always keep in mind that God hears us immediately, and when our heart is right, and our prayers are worthy, He will answer us, just as He answered Daniel. When we start praying with the same devotion that Daniel offered to God … He will always answer our prayers.

Well, I’m not Daniel, you say? That is so true and you and I although knee deep in our life controlling problems are not under the captivity of Babylonian barbarians who will feed you to the lions for eating the wrong food; for a wrong answer to a question; or for praying to your God in a way they do not like.

Jesus has promised us all the Spirit of Truth: “However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” John 16:13.

Just imagine how encouraged Daniel would have been if he had received this same promise. The Holy Spirit indwelling us to guide us is far more than we understand that was available to Daniel. I am convinced that Daniel was guided by the Holy Spirit, but I know born again believers have the Holy Spirit. We all have the Holy Spirit and God’s Word available to us seven days a week twenty four hours a day. To Continue in Prayer is our right and our privilege and our calling.

Why don’t we Continue in Prayer like Daniel did? We are without excuse.

The next key words are: “and watch in the same with thanksgiving”

How are we to be alert and watchful and have a thankful heart in our continuous prayers? I am convinced that God hears all of our prayers immediately. But I am also convinced that it is God’s will for us to understand him on a deeper Spiritual level.

Do you know anyone who prays like this: “Dear God, please help me” … at the same time in their mind they are thinking: “but I know you won’t.”

For this person, here is the problem: “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:6-8

A foundational key to prayer is that the person praying believes in the object of the prayer: Jesus, our Lord and Savior and Creator; the only true God almighty. A prayer to any other is wasted upon prayer to a false god.

When we are watchful we will be practicing the very things that will increase our faith. But instead, we just pray. Is that being watchful?

What am I saying here? Think about it.
Thinking about it is being watchful.
Looking into God's Word for answers is being watchful.
Listening and waiting for the guidance of the Holy Spirit is being watchful.
Anticipating an answer from the Creator is being watchful.


Do you have a problem making a list of all of the things you would like for God to change or resolve in your life? That's easy; right? Any prayers you would like to have answered today? Now that takes only a very little amount of thought, don't you agree?

But now, make a list of all of the things you have to be thankful for. We really need to think about that, because often we have not acknowledged that these things are a blessing from God. Well, I need to meditate on this one, you say; things are not going very well right now.

There ... do you get it?

When we count our blessings and pray them back to God with a thankful heart, we are bringing to mind, His power, His promises, His answers, His provisions, His Word, His Wisdom, His peace, His Joy, His deliverance, His miracles, His sacrifice, His creations, His victories over anything and everything. His omnipotence; his omnipresence; His omniscience; and now when we bring all of these things to mind, what does this do for the depth of our faith in God’s likelihood of answering our prayers for our needs? How much faith do you have now?

Now, let’s look back into Daniel for a moment: “from the first day that you did set your heart to understand” Very interesting … do you see the key words? Daniel set his heart to understand. He was doing exactly what James is advising and the results were overwhelmingly incredible. Daniel was looking deeply into God's Word and he was listening for God's leading and answers.

He was pleading with God for forgiveness and deliverance and victory.
He had proven to the Lord that he would not quit ... he would never give up praying.
Daniel was a faithful prayer.

Daniel was being alert in his prayers with an attitude of thanksgiving. Daniel was looking into the teachings of the prophets for answers and wisdom. Daniel was continuously praying for forgiveness and reconciliation for Israel, day after day. Daniel was humbling himself in the sight of the Lord. Daniel was faithful. Daniel was thankful.

Daniel was Humble. Read what the angel had to say to him:

“For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? For as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be to you, be strong, yes, be strong." Daniel 10:17-19

Daniel was calling this angel lord, because the vision that he was experiencing was so overpowering, but the angel clarified this mistake and then he says something most revealing to Daniel. A messenger from God says to Daniel: “O man greatly beloved” – Can you imagine how these words must have lifted his spirit. Here was a man fasting and praying his heart out for twenty one straight days and a messenger comes to him and says don’t be afraid, you are greatly beloved. Wow, by who is the natural question, but that was not necessary. Daniel knew well the Creator who had sent the messenger.

Pray continually, being watchful and with a thankful heart.
God will answer you faithful prayers.
Happy Thanksgiving and consider your prayers carefully …
Ask the simple question: What do I have to be thankful for?
Now listen … the Holy Spirit will bring much to mind.
Now … give thanks with a grateful heart and then make your needs know to the Lord continuously … being watchful in anticipation of His answers and miracles.

God bless you and keep you my friends, Bob


  1. Today I was a little down. I felt rushed going from place to place. I was trying to please friends and family members with my presence. I was listening to my Christian radio station while driving and he was saying how we love Romans 8:28. And then he went on to say that non believers will never experience this. It made me cry. There are so many of my friends and family members that don't know Jesus and who do not live a thankful and grateful life continually. If they did, this day wouldn't be such a BIG deal for everyone to come together for a meal. Because we could share in His grace everyday of the year and not so much on this one day.

    Sorry that I may have went on a bit. A little exhausted and a little emotional. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words and reminders with us all.
    Now I am going to retreat to my journal and tell my Lord all that I'm grateful for.

    Love and continued peace

  2. Hello Beautiful Butterfly:

    Never apologize about going on for a bit about the things of the Lord here. He hears you cry and He reads the words in your journal before you even have written a single word. We need to write them down for our own benefit ... so we won't forget. But He knows all and never forgets.

    I also have many friends that are not grateful and thankful.

    We need to be thankful that the Lord has placed them in our lives and has given us the opportunity to share the miracles and love of Christ with them.

    God bless you my friend, Bob