“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalm 107:8-9)

As we enter into Thanksgiving week, many traditionally look forward to spending time celebrating with family and friends. May we also remember with gratitude all the Lord has done and continues to do in our lives.

Perhaps, for some, you feel personally overwhelmed. It seems many are facing difficulties, exasperated by all the national and global challenges we are living in today. It has been a season where a number of people have become overwhelmed of heart, living in fear and anxiety about what’s to come.

So how do we, as God’s people, position ourselves so that we are not overcome by anxiety, fear, and stress? May we be reminded to keep perspective and hope, knowing there is still much to be thankful for…this Thanksgiving and every day.

Philippians 4:6-7 encourages and reminds us: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Unfortunately, our posture in prayer is often one of supplication and petition but we forget about Thanksgiving and gratitude!

When we are in places of desperation and in need of breakthrough, we rush to the Lord to beseech Him for what we need. And He certainly wants us to come to Him with our needs, and even commands it! But I believe we would see greater breakthroughs if we remembered to come with an attitude of thanksgiving. As Paul said, “In everything…with thanksgiving…”

I remember a time, years ago, that I had great personal desperation and need in my life. I needed a spiritual breakthrough. I got home late after witnessing on the streets and seeing little fruit. I was frustrated in the ministry. I was tired and discouraged. I didn’t feel like praying. I didn’t want to worship, and I actually felt my heart becoming hardened.

I fell down on the mattress in my dark room and cried out to the Lord. I sensed Him telling me to read about the woman at the well, so I picked up my Bible and began to read the story in John 4. As I did, I heard Him speak into my heart and spirit the same words Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well: “Give me a drink.”

I responded by thinking, Lord, I’m the one who needs a drink from you! Immediately I realized again what the Lord had said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:10 and John 4:14, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink, you would have asked and He would have given you living water’…’but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst. But the water that I shall give will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ ”

God began speaking into my heart once again: “Doug, there are plenty of times to come with supplication before Me, there are plenty of times to ask Me for your needs. And I want to hear about those things. But, sometimes you just need to come to Me, give Me a drink, and thank Me for what I’ve already done and for who I am.”

Out of sheer obedience, not feeling it, I began to thank God for what He had done in my life. I still didn’t feel like praying. But the Bible says we are to give a sacrifice of praise, so I began to sing, Praise the name of Jesus. Then I began to to think of the many thinks I could thank Him for, all He had done in my life.

Then it started to dawn on me. The Lord began to remind me of where He had brought me from. Suddenly, I wasn’t just thanking Him with my mind. My spirit began to come alive, as I simply started having a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving, praying in the Spirit and worshipping God. He had brought me the liberation and breakthrough I needed—not because I came with petitions and requests, but because I came with thanksgiving.

We need to realize that a little gratitude can go a long way toward effective prayer. When we begin to appreciate God for who He is, we gain access to His presence in a fresh, new way. We enter into the gates of His presence when we enter with thanksgiving. And in His presence, great blessing and power are released.

Yes! Psalm 107:8-9 and Jonah 2:7-9 became Rhema to me!

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalm 107:8-9)

“When my soul fainted within me (my life ebbing away), I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, into Your Holy Temple. Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy (or Loving Kindness and Grace). But, I will sacrifice to You with the voice (or song) of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed (keep my covenant commitment). Salvation is of the Lord.” (Jonah 2:7-9)* 

(*Notes in parentheses are mine.)

When we have a heart of gratitude toward God and we show appreciation to God or to others, there is reciprocation. That’s the law of reciprocity. There’s something about gratitude, appreciation, and thanksgiving that release blessings in and through us.

We have all experienced challenges in life and temporary setbacks, but with the support and prayers of those around us, in time we gain trust and hope again. We can always put our hope and trust in the Lord! Even though we go through challenges, obstacles, and life-altering events, God is there for us with arms outstretched. His unfailing love will see us through it, and His plans for our lives never change.

The following excerpt is from an article I wrote in 2012:

“God has not forgotten you. He has a plan and a purpose for you that are greater than any of the temporary circumstances that may be plaguing you. His Word over your life is true and He will be faithful to complete it.

“We must stand on the goodness and faithfulness of God and continue to declare His Word over our lives. In 2 Chronicles 6:17, Solomon prayed, ‘And now, O LORD God of Israel, let Your word come true, which You have spoken to Your servant David.’ Solomon knew the word of God spoken over his father, David, and that word carried the promises for his own life. Now Solomon cried out to the Lord to let that word come true that he might see it come to pass.

“We, too, must pray earnestly for the purposes of God to come to pass in our lives. We are not to sit idly by, waiting to see what will happen all around us. No, God invites us to become partners with Him to see His word come to pass. Jesus commanded us to pray as He prayed, ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”

In the midst of challenges, God’s faithfulness and His goodness are ever present. But it’s important that we not let our focus turn to the circumstances, which can cause us to doubt God’s word for our lives. When we stop to reflect on the landmarks of our past and what God has done in our lives, we see His consistency, His faithfulness, and His Great, Amazing and Abounding Grace. His Word over our lives remains steadfast. His nature is unchanging. He is faithful to His word. He has not forgotten you or me or his promises for our lives.

Psalm 139:17-18 is such a wonderful reminder to us!

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.” (Psalm 139:17-18)

No matter what we face in life, no matter what challenges we face, individually, or corporately, nationally or globally, the power of breakthrough is activated when we begin to thank the Lord and praise Him. Just like the Lord spoke to me all those years ago, there are times that we just need to recognize the Power of His presence. Where His presence is, His Light exposes and dispels the darkness. So let’s do what the Word says. Let’s serve the Lord with gladness and enter His gates with thanksgiving.

Psalms 100:1-5 encourages us:

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord, with gladness;
Come before His Presence with singing.

Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates, with thanksgiving,
And into His Courts with praise.
Be Thankful to Him…and bless His name.
For He is good; His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations…”

Even with all the challenges around us, we can praise the Lord! Let us not lose sight of what we still have to be grateful for: our families, our friends, what God has done in our lives.

I’ve often shared that every morning I have two prayer times. When I wake up, I just thank the Lord for everything I can think of: for the roof over my head, for my wife and my family, my friends. I’m thankful to be a part of what the Lord is doing and the privilege of His calling. I’m grateful for salvation. I just begin to thank him just because, because, because His is worthy of Praise. I thank him with a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving. Then, before I leave my home, or hotel room, or wherever I may be, I then go to my knees and lay out my petitions and my supplications. But I always want to start my first time of the day with an attitude of thankfulness, and I want to close out each day the same way.

When we get things in perspective and we set things in right order, God is able to do things that only He can do in us and through us. We see in Scripture that even with some of the Apostles were imprisoned, they began to praise the Lord and gave Thanksgiving unto God—and He opened prison doors! It’s through attitude of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and appreciation that breakthroughs come.

Let us take some time, wherever you are right now, and just begin to thank the Lord! Make a list of thing things you’re grateful for. All the concerns of your life are still going to be there, but there’s something about putting our focus on thankfulness to God and appreciation for what He’s already done in our lives that paves the way to breakthrough and perspective.

Each and every day, there’s so much for us to be grateful for. Let’s commit today to coming before the Lord with thanksgiving. Let’s be diligent in our times of prayer, both individually and with people of like spirit. Armed with the prayer of faith, we will see God working in us and through us as vessels of breakthrough.

I often hear this melody in my mind and catch myself singing, from the song, Give Thanks, that Don Moen wrote many years ago-

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

So now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us

Give thanks

My prayer is for each of to have a new season of prayer in our lives, a season of effective prayer. As we re-align ourselves with God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and as we re-align ourselves with others that He has put in our lives, we will find new levels of release.

Yes, there are things going on in our lives, in our cities, in our nation, and around the world. It can be overwhelming. We can be perplexed, but we are not a people of fear. We are a people of faith, and faith gives us hope to trust and believe for the things we may not see right now, can still come to pass in the Lord. As we give the Lord a drink, He refills us with Living Water. We can draw from the well that never runs dry, because it comes from the water source that never ceases. It comes from the River of God that flows from His mercy seat and throne of grace. It brings healing and breakthrough everywhere it goes…in us and through us.

I encourage you today, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to hold on to His promises. His Word over you is true!

-Doug Stringer