As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let’s pause to consider why expressing gratitude to God is important not just Thanksgiving Day but every day. Giving thanks is clearly taught in Scripture, but what does it accomplish, and why does God say, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (Ps. 92:1)? Since God—who is absolutely perfect and has all knowledge and wisdom—says giving thanks is good, then it ought to be a vital part of our lives. However, our prayers often consist more of requests than thanks. We’re so focused on our troubles and needs that we sometimes take for granted all the blessings He’s already so richly provided.
The Lord knows we need reminders when it comes to giving thanks. When He established the nation of Israel, He gave them laws, regulations, and sacrifices that governed their worship—and one of the offerings was the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The Lord wanted them to acknowledge He was the one true God and the source of everything they had. His reminders about being grateful can be found throughout His Word, especially in the book of Psalms.
The sacrifices of thanksgiving we offer today are not animals on an altar but “the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15), “singing with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God” (Col. 3:16), grateful attitudes and actions (v. 17), and “acceptable service with reverence and awe” toward God (Heb. 12:28). No matter how we express our gratitude to the Lord, we can be certain what He said is true—it’s good to give Him thanks. And when we’re grateful—no matter what our circumstances may be—we not only glorify the Lord, but we can also expect to reap the following benefits.
First, thanksgiving refocuses our attention. Psalm 92:2 recommends that we declare God’s lovingkindness in the morning and His faithfulness at night. When we begin the morning with praise and thanksgiving to God, our focus shifts from the pressures and burdens of the coming day to the Lord and His goodness and love. In addition, we’ll become more aware of our dependence upon Him and more appreciative of His care, provision, protection, and guidance throughout the day. Then in the evening, as we remember His faithfulness to us, our gratitude will again overflow. Instead of crawling into bed with our burdens, thanksgiving produces God’s peace of mind so we can sleep soundly.
Instead of crawling into bed with our burdens, thanksgiving produces God’s peace of mind so we can sleep soundly.
Second, gratitude releases us from anxiety. We live in a fast-paced culture filled with pressures, expectations, and stress. When we’re consumed by worry, fear, and anxiety, we rarely feel grateful—but that’s when we most need to thank and praise God.
According to Philippians 4:6-7, the solution for anxiety is prayer accompanied by thanksgiving. When we bring God our burdens and concerns, thanking Him for His faithfulness to us, his peace that surpasses all comprehension will guard our hearts and minds. There’s an amazing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual change that occurs when we begin voicing praise to God. Our burdens are lifted, the internal churning stops, and we come away rejoicing in the Lord, feeling refreshed in spirit.
Third, thanksgiving reinforces our faith. As we look back and gratefully recount His faithfulness in our lives, our confidence in Him grows. Perhaps He provided something we needed, guided us through a confusing situation, or delivered us from difficulty or temptation. If He cared for us then, surely we can trust Him for today and tomorrow. Before long, we’ll be able to bring Him our requests for present needs, while at the same time thanking Him for future answers. According to 1 John 5:14-16, if we ask anything according to His will, we can know with certainty He will give us what we’ve requested.
Fourth, praising and thanking the Lord refreshes our relationship with Him. Ingratitude dulls our spiritual perception, but thanksgiving opens our eyes to gain new insights into God’s character, ways, and desires (Ps. 92:1-6). When we give Him praise instead of just asking Him to do something for us, our relationship with Him deepens and matures. We’ll delight in honoring Him for who He is, not just for what He has done or will do for us. And after a time of praise and thanksgiving, we’ll come away refreshed with a renewed perspective, rejoicing in the goodness of our Lord.
If we hope to maintain a grateful spirit, we must find a consistent motivation.
If we hope to maintain a grateful spirit, we must find a consistent motivation. Otherwise, our thankfulness will ebb and flow according to our current conditions. Since the only constant factor in our lives is the Lord Himself, on Him is where our focus should be placed. No matter what challenges or hardships we face, we can always thank Him for creating and sustaining us; for His providential care, guidance, and provision; and for His unfailing love. But above all else, we should thank Him for our salvation, for it required the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf.
When we consider all that the Father has done for us, we have no excuse for ingratitude and everything to gain by making thanksgiving a vital part of our relationship with the Lord. God’s Word is true—it is good to give thanks to the Lord.
Charles F. Stanley
P.S. Here at In Touch Ministries, we pray you will have a happy Thanksgiving as you gather with family and friends to thank the Lord for all of His blessings. We hope you’ve been strengthened in your walk with Christ through our publications and broadcasts, and we’d like to thank you for your prayers and encouragement on our behalf.