As I sat this morning in the quietness of my house and began my prayer time with The Lord, I was at a loss for words. Not because I had nothing to pray about, but because I had EVERYTHING to pray about. There is not one aspect of my life that doesn’t have something on the list. Where do I even start?!?
Do you ever feel like that? I know that so many people around us are wondering: How in the world am I going to know the right answer to all of life’s questions? Where do I send my child to school? What job should I take? Why isn’t a loved one healed? Where should I move? Why won’t that family member turn back to God and start making the right decisions? How do I reach out to my hurting co-worker? How can God use me when I am a mess like this? How will I ever get over the hurt someone has caused me, let alone love them? What can I do to keep a marriage from falling apart? And so on.
We all have trials that we face or questions that continue to be left unanswered. So what do we do when our prayer request list is getting longer and longer?
At church on Sunday I was reminded of this familiar Bible verse:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
This was the first time that I realized how important this cause and effect verse is in our lives. The second sentence alerts us of an important step that we have to take in our lives. First we have to acknowledge God, who He is, what He has done for us and recognize the fact that He is in the driver’s seat. Only after completing this first command, will we be able to tap into the full knowledge of which path to take. The more we practice this the more we will be in tune with His Words of wisdom.
This is actually really good news. We can’t always have control of our trials. Sometimes we desperately want a change or answer, but it is out of our control. Other times we are too hurt or confused to think correctly. But there are two things you can always do no matter what your circumstances:
1. You can thank God.
2. You can praise God.
Praise, Thank, Repeat
Daniel was a good example of someone who thanked God even in difficult circumstances. Daniel lived in a time of exile. He was taken into a foreign land and forced to work for the King. He had to learn how to live in another culture but never lost track of who he was and who he served. This conviction created a problem when the king outlawed prayer. If Daniel stayed true he would be thrown into the lion’s den to be eaten alive. Not a minor trial! In Daniel 6:10 it says, “But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room with its windows open towards Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to His Lord.”
Even in the face of a horrific death he was still able to offer up a prayer of thanks. Wow! I know I don’t always remember to thank God in the good times, let alone in the hard. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 it says, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
I’m Just Not Feeling It
Sometimes you feel like a hypocrite thanking God during a major battle. You shouldn’t, but I know that I do, especially when my soul is not in a thankful mood. But in those moments when it is hard to find something that you can be thankful for, you can always be thankful for who God is.
- Thank-you God that you are faithful and will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
- Thank-you God that you chose me to be your child. (Romans 8:15)
- Thank-you God that you are gracious to forgive us and forget our sins. (Hebrews 8:12)
- Thank-you God that you are wise and will give us wisdom. (James 1:5 and Proverbs 2:3-11)
- Thank-you God that you are so loving that nothing can separate us from you. (Romans 8:38-39)
- Thank-you Jesus that you have overcome all the evil in the world and because we are on your side we will also win in the end. (John 16:33)
- Thank-you God that you are a giver of peace. (Philippians 4:8-9)
- Thank-you God that you are all knowing and will give us wisdom. (Psalm 25:8-10, Proverbs 3:5-6 and Psalm 37:23)
The second thing we can do when the going gets tough is to praise God. Paul and Silas did this often when they found themselves in the chains of prison. In Acts 16:25 Paul and Silas were found praising God and singing songs to Him, right before an earthquake set them free. Instead of focusing on the chains around their ankles and wrists that were holding them down, they offered up songs of praise to the only one who could save them.
King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:15-24 actually used praise and worship to annihilate the enemies he faced! When he acknowledged God and praised Him for who He is, God fought His battle for him and he was victorious.
Psalms is a great book to read when you want to praise God, especially Psalm 144-150. Turn on K-Love or listen to your favorite song on your iPod. I’m sure you have your own, but here is a list of songs we like to listen to when we are praising God.
- Our God by Chris Tomlin
- Stronger by Hillsong
- Bless The Lord by Christian Standfill
- I Will Praise You in the Storm by Casting Crowns
When you replace the feelings of doubt, fear, guilt and condemnation with feelings of praise and thanksgiving, it allows you to be open to the Spirit’s leading. God can then move and lead your very steps. You will be confident of His presence and you can boldly go where you never thought you could before.
As you go out today, remember to acknowledge Him, thank Him, and praise Him. No matter what you are facing, you will be off to a very good start!
A psalm of thanksgiving.
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.