I know what you’re thinking. Why are you doing a post on how to pray with thanksgiving? Isn’t it pretty simple? Don’t you just pray and thank God?
What if your life is going so bad at the moment that you honestly, try as hard as you can, can’t think of anything to be thankful about?
That’s where the renewing of the mind comes in.
When we renew our minds, we’re taking off our old (sinful) way of doing life and replacing it with a new (glorifying God) way of doing life.
One of the ways we do that is to stop looking at life through our culture’s eyes, and start looking at it through biblical eyes.
What Does the Bible Say About Life?
The culture tells us that, unless life is going great, we don’t have a lot to be thankful for. But the Bible says things like:
- Rejoice always. 1 Thessalonians 5:16
- In everything give thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- And even, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. James 1:2
So from a biblical perspective, we can always think of things to thank God for. If we couldn’t, the Bible wouldn’t tell us to rejoice always.
But how do we do we get to the point where we can honestly, at the gut level, rejoice even when things are going bad?
Simple. We pray with thanksgiving.
So what does that look like on a practical level? Let’s compare the traditional way of giving thanks with a renewing of the mind way of giving thanks.
In a traditional thanksgiving prayers we say things like:
- Thank you that I live in a free country.
- Thank you for my job.
- Thank you for my family and my friends.
We don’t say things like:
- Thank you God that I just broke my boundaries again.
- Thank you God that my spouse is driving me crazy with his complaining.
- Thank you God that the world seems to be going insane and I have no idea what the future holds.
It would seem ridiculous to thank God for those things! Not only do they not make us happy, but they also don’t make God happy.
So if we can’t thank God for those things, what do we thank Him for when life is going awry?
Pray with Thanksgiving: To Renew Our Minds
Simple. We thank God for who He is in the midst of a life gone awry.
Focus our thanksgiving on Him: His nature, His attributes, His personality. So we might pray things like this:
Thank you God that you’re in control. I don’t have to worry about what’s going on in the world because at any minute you could put your foot down and say, “Enough is enough!” Since you haven’t yet, I can assume that you’re allowing things to happen and will bring good from them.
Thank you God for how you love me in the midst of my suffering. Thank you for wrapping your arms around me and caring for me, even though it seems like I don’t have a lot of regular people caring for me these days.
Thank you God that you meet all of my emotional needs. You fill me up in ways no one else can.
Thank you God for all the progress you’ve already given me with this habit. I know that the God who created the mountains I see out my window will also help me break this habit.
Traditional vs. Renewing of the Mind
Do you see the difference between our traditional prayers of thanksgiving and these renewing of the mind prayers of thanksgiving?
There’s nothing wrong with thanking God for the good thing in life. We should thank Him for all His blessings.
But it we only thank Him for the things that make our lives fun and easy, we won’t have anything to thank Him for when life isn’t fun and easy.
The truth is, God uses trials to make us grow when we turn to Him for help. If I look back on some of the biggest trials in my life, what I remember isn’t the trial, it’s those intimate times of fellowship with God in the midst of the trial.
If you’re struggling with a trial of your own today, my prayer is that you’ll go to God for help with it. One of the best ways to go to Him for help is to pray with thanksgiving because that helps us to see the trial from His perspective.
If you’re having a hard time thinking of things to be thankful for, check out this post: 20 Things to Be Thankful for When Life is Hard.