Prayer, Praise, and Thanksgiving: Pray-Be-See Week 4


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Psalm 116:1-7 I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. 5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. 6 The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.

Prayer, Praise, and Thanksgiving Go Together

E. M. Bounds – a great prayer warrior – wrote: Prayer, praise and thanksgiving all go in company. A close relationship exists between them. Praise and thanksgiving are so near alike that it is not easy to distinguish between them or define them separately. The Scriptures join these three things together. Many are the causes for thanksgiving and praise. The Psalms are filled with many songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving, all pointing back to the results of prayer. Thanksgiving includes gratitude. In fact thanksgiving is but the expression of an inward conscious gratitude to God for mercies received. Gratitude is an inward emotion of the soul, involuntarily arising therein, while thanksgiving is the voluntary expression of gratitude.”

The worst advice anyone can ever give is to say…
Follow Your Heart!

The unbelieving world follows it’s heart. It was the heart that led to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus! To follow the heart is to be sensual, devilish. The Scripture tells us in Jeremiah ..

(17:9-10) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

The heart in its natural state is brutish, sensual, sinful. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us this. The Pharisees were a religious but unconverted crowd. They adhered to the Levitical laws strictly. One day they saw Jesus and His disciples eating a meal without first washing their hands. The Pharisees accused Jesus and His followers as being unworthy of God. Jesus bluntly told the Pharisees in Matthew ..

(15:7-8) Ye hypocrites, well did {Isaiah} prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

The heart must not be FOLLOWED, but it must be LED and CONTROLLED. Jesus said that it is not the ceremonies that make us close to God, but a heart focus on Him. Many religious people today are like the Pharisees of yesterday – they draw near to God outwardly, with the lips, but their hearts are far from Him. God knows the difference. When a person says “I am saved” and yet indulge in outward evil then it is a sure sign that the heart is leading them, and not the Lord. Jesus said:

Matthew 15:18-20 … those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

What does God want of us? He wants us to direct our hearts toward Him, to focus on His Word, to be thanksgivers. We are to lead our hearts Godward, not be led by our hearts.

The test of the heart is what you do when you are tried.

Psalm 116:1-4 I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell {the grave get their} hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the Lord …

Where Is My “Then”?

What comes after the “THEN” in your life? When trials come and The sorrows of death compassed me and the gates of hell {the grave get their} hold upon me do you look upward in prayer and praise, thanking God for being there? Or do you despair, and lose hope? Beloved, to lose hope and trust in God is the worst thing that can happen to you. The Psalmist, even when afflicted – even when he found trouble and sorrow no matter where he looked – the Psalmist knew that God was there.

If there is gratitude in the heart there will be thanksgiving in the outward life and in the prayer closet. A heart focused on God and on His graciousness is a led heart. The Psalmist said …

Psalm 116:1 I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.

He did NOT say “I love the Lord BECAUSE my life is easy and my bank account full”. He said I love the Lord, because he hath HEARD. The word translated HEARD is the Hebrew שָׁמַע shâmaʻ, (pronounced shaw-mah’) which means “to hear intelligently, to hear and understand, to carefully listen to, to heed and pay attention to”. This verb is in the Qal Imperfect which emphasizes that God hears His Child and will always hear His Child – the action is never completed. God hears us when we cry out in our pain. He is there, and He is controlling all things so as to insure that the trial we are in will come to love’s conclusion. What has Jesus promised? In both Old as well as New Covenants our Lord promised:

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your {way of life} be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for {God} hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Our Lord paid so very much for us at the Cross of Calvary.
Our Lord paid so very much for us at the point of salvation.
Our Lord pays so much for us every single day we live.

What did God do for us at Calvary? The Father sent His only Begotten Son to Calvary to die for us. He did not die a gentle death, but a harsh death. The Scripture says that Jesus was …

Romans 3:25 … set forth to be a propitiation {satisfactory payment} through faith in His blood … for the remission of sins that are past …

Jesus live a perfect and sinless life. He then went to Calvary to pay the penalty of our sins – a penalty He paid in full. The Bible says …

Hebrews 2:17 … in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make RECONCILIATION for the sins of the people.

Jesus made RECONCILIATION {ἱλάσκομαι hiláskomai, pronounced hil-as’-kom-ahee} or paid our account in full. Jesus became our brother, our Big Brother, and took our sin on Himself. This is an action that made eternal scars on God. He died for us. We are therefore children of God by faith in Him. This hurt God. Further, we are yet imperfect beings, though born into the Family of God. Nonetheless the Holy Spirit indwells us, guides us, and stays with us no matter what we may do. What a glorious salvation we have, dear Christ follower! What a love was and is expended on us who are the children of the Most High!

1 John 4:10 … Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Leading your heart to this truth will cause you to praise God and thank Him even when you are tried. Look at the Cross of Calvary once more. Jesus ALONE paid for our sins, but Jesus was not alone on that mount. Do you see the three crosses? Jesus Christ died on that Cross for the sins of the whole world. The man dying on Christ’s left said – rejecting the Master –

Luke 23:39 … if Thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us!

The world if it sees Christ at all sees Him as an if. If Thou be the Christ. If you are indeed Jesus give me immediate and temporal relief. Take away my suffering. Heal me right now, if you are Who you say you are kiss it and make it better. This is what the lost and undone do with Christ. They bargain and wheedle, making deals with God.

A popular show on television several years ago was called Frasier. In one show the dad told his son: “I remember right after I got shot, I said, “God, if I promise never to drink another bottle of {beer}, will you let me get through this?” His son said “You still drink {beer}” to which the dad replied , “Not in bottles, baby”. This is a perfect picture of the world. It remains on the left hand of God, knowing He bled and died, but making foolish deals with God for temporal relief from the suffering we all go through.

Then there’s the man on the right side of Christ. He’s just as close, suffering just as badly. But as he reaches out in prayer he says:

Luke 23:42 … Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.

His heart cry is not that the suffering cease, but that there be a glorious morning after where the pain has ended. He asks for the companionship of Christ – a morsel of grace. He asks Jesus, Lord, remember me – not heal me, not take away the pain, but remember me. To that person – that Christ follower – Jesus promises:

Luke 23:43 Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

This was what satisfied the suffering soul, that God has promised to never leave nor to forsake us. He has promised us a paradise on the other side of this mountain. Thank God for that. Thank the blessed Jesus for this!

It Is In Focused Prayer That We Learn Thanksgiving

E.M. Bounds writes : Thanksgiving is just what the word itself signifies—the giving of thanks to God. It is giving something to God in words which we feel at heart for blessings received. Gratitude arises from a contemplation of the goodness of God. It is bred by serious meditation on what God has done for us.”

Oh Christian, is it not true that …

Psalm 126:3 The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

As we enter the prayer closet let us meditate upon the Lord. “My meditation of him shall be sweet.” (Psalm 104:34). Take hold of your heart and your flesh. Do not let selfishness reign, but let the Spirit reign within you. Thank God that He is there and is never far away. A far away god could not hear you. God is ever near. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 116:1-2 I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

God hears us, and knows our needs. The Apostle Paul gave us a command that is very revealing if we were to focus on it. He wrote:

Romans 12:1 I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

What is a sacrifice? Both Gentiles as well as Jews understood what sacrifices were in the day that this was written. The Gentiles who were unsaved offered sacrifices to a pantheon of gods and goddesses. A sacrifice was an animal killed on an altar, it’s blood shed, in order to appease the gods. In Judaism the Lord had the Jew sacrifice an animal. The sacrificed animal was killed, it’s blood sprinkled on the sinner, and often the sacrifice itself was burned to symbolize the wrath of God being poured out on the substitute instead of the sinner. The Apostle does not tell us to sacrifice ourselves in that way, but to be a living sacrifice. Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins so that we can live our lives for Him. We are not to follow our hearts but to follow Him Who loved us and gave Himself for us. As a living sacrifice we serve the Lord with gladness and thankful hearts even in the midst of our suffering. We do not murmur or complain, but look upward, trusting our Lord to do what is best for us.

E.M. Bounds wrote: Gratitude and thanksgiving forever stand opposed to all murmurings at God’s dealings with us, and all complainings at our lot. Gratitude and murmuring never abide in the same heart at the same time. An unappreciative spirit has no standing beside gratitude and praise. And true prayer corrects complaining and promotes gratitude and thanksgiving. Dissatisfaction at one’s lot, and a disposition to be discontented with things which come to us in the providence of God, are foes to gratitude and enemies to thanksgiving.”

We come together as God’s people to encourage one another in thankfulness. The Apostle tells we who are of Christ’s Church:

Ephesians 5:17-21 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

The will of the Lord is that we be filled not with ourselves, but fully empowered by God’s Spirit. When we come together we encourage one another toward His filling by outwardly speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing praises and thankfully to our Lord. We do not just mouth the words in the hymnbook, but we praise Him for what He has given us of Himself – an infinite and immeasurable grace! We also practice giving thanks always for all things. What does this mean? Exactly what it says. We praise God for the good as well as the bad. We take the attitude of Job, that grand old example of faith, who said:

Job 2:10 … shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

God is Almighty. He brings or allows all that happens in our lives for our good. He did the most for us at the Cross. Shall He do the lesser for us now?

Whether tried or at ease, let us be thankful unto God. “Continue to pray, and as you pray, pray with a thankful heart” (Colossians 4:2, my paraphrase). No matter what life may bring …

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 (KJV) Rejoice evermore. {17} Pray without ceasing. {18} In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. {19} Quench not the Spirit.”

To do less is to Quench the Spirit of God. He will never leave you nor forsake you, but the ungrateful heart and selfish murmuring spirit will rob you of the joy of your salvation. Rejoice regardless. Pray regardless. Be thankful regardless. Encourage one another to rest in the Lord.

Psalm 116:5-7 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. 6 The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee

People may call you “simpleminded”. Just remember, The Lord preserveth the simple. The Lord looks after those who simply and faithfully follow Him, glorifying the Father in the Name of the Son and in the power of the Spirit.

Rest in the Lord. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. May God touch your hearts with his Word!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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