Our confession of faith makes it clear. The giving of thanks comprises an essential component of true worship. Under the heading of Religious Worship, and the Lord’s Day paragraph 3 begins, God requires all men to pray to Him, and to give thanks, this being one part of natural worship.
Psalm 65:2 states Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion. Psalm 95:1-2 commands Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 118 starts Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
Jesus modeled thanksgiving in his prayers. I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth; that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will (Matt. 11:25-26). Paul directed prayer as a first priority for the worshiping church and included thanksgiving as part of its character. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people (1 Tim. 2:1). Indeed, the filling of the Spirit manifests itself in our lives by a relentless penchant for giving thanks (Eph. 5:18-20).
If I pause to consider, it amazes me just how much I have to thank God for as another Thanksgiving holiday comes around. So great a salvation. Relative sanctification (I have so far to go!). The Spirit’s voice. The precious word of God. Length of days. A loving, forbearing (if you only knew) wife. Kids, grand kids, and extended family. Shelter and provision in abundance. Ministry opportunities galore. Faithful friends. Keeping providence. Grace that abounds in the face of my sin. The covenant community at OGC. Making friends for eternity among the Digo and other people groups. Great co-workers. I could go on and on!
As this Thursday approaches and our country heeds the call of our forefathers to give thanks, how do you find your gratitude quotient? Perhaps you might make a list like the one above, recounting the many ways in which God has blessed you. Maybe you could include a sharing time around your table on Thursday as to why you are thankful. How about writing a friend and let him/her know why you are grateful. Be sure to include a note in the note about your gratitude for that friend! That will be a great encouragement. If you need help with this, you might want to read Scotty Smith’s post concerning prayer about being a gratitude-geyser.
It is not optional for the Christian, this discipline of thanksgiving. But if we give it some thought, we will find that it doesn’t take much to get the gratitude juices going. God has given us so much. If you don’t think so, just read Ephesians 1:3. If that doesn’t get you going, I don’t know what will.