The Power of Giving Thanks: Part 1
Last year as we celebrated the Thanksgiving season, I felt God drop a Bible study blog post into my heart called The Power of Giving Thanks, but it’s taken me a year to feel like I can begin to articulate what God’s been teaching me on this topic:)
Let’s start with some background about the holiday itself. Our American holiday of Thanksgiving originated as a day for prayer and giving thanks and praise to God. If you look back at the proclamations of our early presidents, their words are astounding. Within the text, as they describe the need to give thanks and praise to God, both George Washington (in 1789) and Abraham Lincoln (in 1863) referred to God as the Almighty God or Almighty Father.
This name for God, the LORD Almighty, was first introduced in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel, and in some Bibles it is translated LORD of Hosts. The Hebrew word translated Hosts or Almighty means armies, war, or warfare. It also refers to the things which exist in the heavenlies - the sun, moon, stars, angels, etc. So the word in its entirety refers to the overall sovereignty of God. It means the God of the armies of the heavenlies. Both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were well familiar with war, and I would venture to say this name for God, the Almighty, was deeply personal to them.
All throughout the Bible God’s people are instructed to give thanks and praise to him, and all throughout the Bible we see this exemplified by his people. Prayer, praise, and thanksgiving all go hand in hand. When we give thanks to God, it is both prayer and praise. It is prayer because it is communication with God, and it is praise because it is an acknowledgement of who God is and what he does.
In fact, both Hebrew words for "thanks" in the Old Testament can also be translated "praise." Giving thanks is always praise, it’s always worship, and it brings glory to God. Scripture tells us it blesses him, it pleases him, and he delights in it. That alone is powerful. That alone is motive to give thanks.
But here’s the awesome, sovereign, loving-kindness of our God:
everything God commands us to do unto Him also has purpose for us.
When Jesus tells us to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength,” that is also where we experience the fullness of life we were created to live. That is also where we discover our greatest purpose. The same is true with God’s commands to give thanks and praise. When we give thanks and praise to God, it has a powerful effect on us and in our lives.
Paul had a lot to say about giving thanks. With each of the following verses, we will see the correlation between prayer, praise, and thanksgiving:
Ephesians 5:19b - 20, NIV
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:16-17, ESV
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 4:2, ESV