“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2 (NASB)
prayer: (noun) A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God.
Prayer is petitioning. We’re usually pretty good about asking, but how often do we follow through with thanksgiving? Both the verse above and the first definition that popped up on google to define prayer include thanksgiving. It must be an important part of prayer.
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young has been both an encouragement and a challenge to me this year. Part of the devotional on January 11 reads: “When you bring Me prayer requests, lay out your concerns before Me. Speak to Me candidly; pour out your heart. Then thank Me for the answers that I have set into motion long before you can discern results. When your requests come to mind again, continue to thank Me for the answers that are on the way.”
The idea of thanking God after asking has stuck with me. Our Creator God is powerful. He spoke into existence the earth and all that is in it, He causes the sun to rise and the earth to rotate consistently, He sustains the balance that enables all of life to continue…yet He still values even the smallest details of my life and the cares of my heart. When I ask Him for something, He listens. He answers. The answer may not be in the way I expect because God’s thoughts and ways are higher than my own, but my requests are not taken lightly. Knowing the character of God, I am able to give thanks after praying to Him – because I know He has heard and will answer.
At different points in my spiritual growth, I have used different tools to help me focus my heart and mind on prayer consistently. This summer I am attending a women’s Bible study where we are learning about prayer. It was recommended to start a prayer notebook. So I bought myself a little flowered spiral notebook from Target and researched how to section it off in a way that would benefit my prayer time. I have some pages sectioned out at the beginning for specific people that I pray for regularly (family, close friends, etc.). Then I have a section a little ways in where I can simply write prayer requests as they come up. After each request, I leave a line or two for answers, so that I can “keep alert with an attitude of thanksgiving.” When prayers are answered, I use colors to record how the Lord has answered me.
Even though I just started this notebook several weeks ago, it has already become a precious part of my time with the Lord. As I flip through the pages each day, I am able to be faithful in prayer. I am able to see answers to prayer readily. I am encouraged to turn things over to the Lord. I am challenged to thank Him for His work in each situation, even when I don’t see results immediately. Ultimately, I am humbled as I remember the power and sovereignty of the God to whom I pray.