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After you read the article below, take a moment to discuss how a biblical lifestyle of thanksgiving has the potential of impacting believers and non-believers; congregations and communities.

Your thoughts are appreciated,


Phil Miglioratti
Pray! Network Community Manager

Foundations of a Revived Family

By Gary Bergal

A pastor recently asserted that there is no sin of greater magnitude in America today than that of ingratitude toward God and His goodness. As a result, negative attitudes, anxieties, and fears grip many, even in the church, and America's material blessings are not able to meet the crises and challenges of the day. Could we as a nation have become weak and fat in godless, materialistic hedonism and have fallen under the curse of forgetting God (Dt. 6:12)? As believers interceding for our nation, it is imperative that we stand in this gap, repenting of these grave national omissions and offering from our own lips the thanks due to Almighty God. It is also important that we understand that an effective, balanced life of intercession is maintained and refreshed by proper thanksgiving.

When Jesus' disciples inquired of Him about the close of the age and His return, one of His first remarks was that they should see to it that they not become frightened or troubled (Mt. 24:1–8). It is the same today. Though we live in days of great pressure, uncertainties, and threat of terrorist attacks, we should not be alarmists. Our motivation to intercede must not be one of fear, but rather a faith-filled response to the prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit. Thanksgiving keeps us in a positive perspective and an attitude of faith. Thanksgiving helps us discern between the burdens of God and false burdens that might be triggered by anxiety, demonic pressures, the evening news, or the cares of everyday life. Part of our daily, priestly ministry to God is thanksgiving (Lev. 7:12; Ps. 116:17). It is a vital component of the church's total prayer ministry, and is to accompany our petitions and supplications (Phil. 4:6–7). It is both a godly discipline and an attitude that, when maintained, pleases God, pushes back our enemies and releases the provisions of heaven wrought in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:20; 6:18; Rev. 5:8).

My family and I were impressed by the benefits of spiritual refreshment and clarification we received through thanksgiving recently when our entire church participated in a day of fasting and thanksgiving. While it might seem contradictory to some that we would "afflict our souls" and thank God simultaneously, this "seemed good to us and to the Holy Spirit," and was confirmed by our entire congregation. So we disciplined ourselves to thank God for 24 hours! It was not easy, but it refreshed and revolutionized us. Families came together to compile lists of things for which each member was thankful. Children and parents wept together in a holy joy of thanksgiving, remembering all that God had done—and is doing. Our church has not been the same since that day. Our vision, sense of purpose in God, and love for Christ and one another were all revived.

Living close to Washington, D.C., a political "epicenter," we continually battle disappointment, negativity, cynicism and sarcasm. Sometimes our children and even we grown-ups get infected with a virus of ingratitude. The best antidote we've discovered is to take a conscious family "gratitude check." One way we did this was to direct our children to compile a list, write a poem, or compose a prayer, noting specific things they were thankful for. Their attitudes were markedly more positive after this simple exercise. Another thing we've done is to mount a dry-erase board inside one of our kitchen cupboard doors where we note and reflect upon answers to prayer. On some Thanksgiving holidays we cut strips of colored paper, write things we are thankful for on them, and paste them into paper chains which we hang as part of our Thanksgiving holiday decorations—a visual reminder of the unbroken goodness and faithfulness of God continually flowing into our lives.
Thanksgiving is a mark of the redeemed community. When people all around us are fearful, depressed, and full of complaints, we should be known as joyful, thankful, and a hopefully expectant people. Scripture indicates that the following are just some of what we should be thankful for:

    •    God, Himself: His Fatherhood and perfect nature; His covenant love and faithfulness (Ps. 89:1, 2; 92:1–5; 96; Rev. 11:17) 
    •    redemption, deliverance, restoration and eternal life in Christ Jesus (Jn. 3:16; Ps. 34:4; Col. 1:12–14; 2 Cor. 9:15)
    •    victory over sin, Satan, self-love, death, and every situation (1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14; Col. 1:12–14; Rev. 12:10, 11)
    •    all fellow believers; their deepening knowledge of Christ and obedience to His Word; church leadership and our lasting relationships (1 Thess. 1:2, 2:13; Phil. 1:3)
    •    material provisions lavished upon us from God's abundance; food, clothing, shelter (Jn. 6:11; Acts 27:35; 2 Cor. 9:8–15; 1 Tim. 4:3, 4; Jas. 1:17)
    •    answered prayer, wisdom, strength (Dan. 2:23; 1 Jn. 5:13–15)
    •    good government; the human family; the freedom of the gospel; family life and the opportunity to live quiet and peaceable lives in all honesty and godliness (1 Tim. 2:1–4; Ro. 13:1–7)
    •    for all things and in everything (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18).

A study of the book of Revelation reveals that thanksgiving is actually part of the lifestyle and atmosphere of heaven (Rev. 7:12). As we continue to intercede and believe God for a turning to Christ and full-scale revival in our land, let us not forget that our thank offerings are actually helping to change America's spiritual atmosphere! "Through Christ then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Heb. 13:15, NASB).


Copyright © 2009, Pray!, a publication of NavPress and The Navigators. All Rights Reserved. NavPress is the publishing ministry of The Navigators, an international Christian organization and leader in personal spiritual development. NavPress is committed to helping people grow spiritually and enjoy lives of meaning and hope through personal and group resources that are biblically rooted, culturally relevant, and highly practical. To find more spiritual-growth resources, visit www.praymag.com.

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Great article. Before I read this, I was thinking about a project that a whole family can work on--developing their own Gratitude journal. I made one about a year ago when I was having a particularly difficult time. The discipline of writing down at least one thing each day that I was thankful for, helped me take my focus off the difficulties that were going on in my life. Creating one of these as a family can be a great bonding experience as well as an opportunity to celebrate God's goodness and faithfulness. Craft stores make it pretty easy these days by supplying cardboard covers that can be covered with special papers, embellishments, lettering, etc.
Several years ago the passage in Romans 1:21-32 made me realize the importance of gratitude. Paul writes "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him ... God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts ...."

So I know that when I practice thankfulness I am building a wall of protection against being led astray by the devil and when I encourage others to be thankful I am protecting them..
We always went around the table and the family thanked God. My grandfather would give a little talk reflecting over the past year. There were 27 or 28 of us. We will never forget it.
I don't know that ingratitude to God is the greatest sin in America today--certainly not being as devoted to God and obedient in holy fear is a major root of many, many sins, imo. But if indeed people would acknowledge that every perfect thing and every good gift is from God, that everything we have belongs to Him, that we can in everything give thanks, it would go a long, long way to getting us more properly oriented to our gracious Lord.
This is a timely reminder, thank you! Our team just focused on 1 Thessalonians 5:18 this morning and we took the challenge of saying thanks to God today no matter what happens -- good or bad. Thank you for sharing this article, indeed we can thank Him for so many things.
Perhaps the two greatest mistakes made in praying is to ignore the purposes of God, and to fail to understand that God responds to praise and not to pity. God will never set aside his purposes to answer our prayers. We must discover his purposes and wrap our requests in them.
And, we must ask as if we already have received that for which we are asking. We celebrate to see it, not after we see it! In Jericho, the shouts and celebration preceded the walls collapse; in battle, the praise team preceded the army; when feeding 5,000, the prayer of thanksgiving preceded he miracle; when standing before Lazarus' tomb, a prayer of thanksgiving preceded the command, 'Lazarus, come forth;' when stripped, beaten and chained in Philippi praise preceded the earthquake, jailbreak and revival!
"Be anxious for nothing..." "Don't worry, be happy." A worrier will never be a warrior. A whiner is not a winner! The cure for worry? "Pray with thanksgiving and the God of peace will keep your heart and mind at peace!".
When it's all said and done, God does what he does for himself. If that bothers someone, it's because he's not their "God" yet.
Thanks Theory: The Way to Wakedness
I’ve just been meditating on Psalm 92, which begins with “It is good to give thanks...” But why exactly is thanks such a good thing to do?

Thanksgiving theories often focus on how beneficial thanks can be because of how it affects minds in positive ways. As Gary says, “Thanksgiving keeps us in a positive perspective and an attitude of faith.” That giving thanks brings about “benefits of spiritual refreshment” is, of course, a worthy rationale for aggressive thanksgiving. But in itself, this reason for thanking God is limited and a bit subjective. Thanksgiving is more than a pick-me-up tonic for the soul when you feel depressed, and Gary would be the first to say so. In fact, Gary does go on to point out something of enduring substance: “Our vision, sense of purpose in God, and love for Christ [were] revived.”

If I had to pick one, the single most illuminating text in all the Bible about thanksgiving is Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.”

The word for “alert” means awakened or attentive or focused. I think most people scan over this and misread it as if it said, “Make resolutions about praying consistently and be sure not to forget to say thanks once in awhile with at least a few words of gratitude.” That’s not it.

There are three parts to this verse: Devotion, wide-awake alertness, and thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the method or means to bring ourselves to wide-awake alertness. And in turn, this wide-awake alertness is the only way to succeed in devoting ourselves to pray. In other words, read the verse backwards to get a sense of the dynamics of persistent prayer: Thanks leads to alertness to God’s work, and that freshness of vision of what God is doing helps sustain and focus enduring devotion to prayer.

The wide-awake alertness Paul mentions is not a matter of pinching ourselves or leveraging droopy eyelids with toothpicks. The wide-awake alertness is attentiveness to what God has been doing and what He will do.

Offhand I can think of two other ways that the Bible describes this wakedness: One is the oft-quoted Isaiah 26:8, “Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls” which is why “We have waited for You eagerly.” Thanking God regathers our memories in ways that incite desire and expectancy. Another way to describe this wakedness is Luke’s use of the word “homothumadon” which has to do with sharing a common zeal. The word is common in Luke’s description of prayer and occasions where people prayed together with one heart, mind and passion in sustained ways (Acts 1:14, 2:46, 4:24, 5:12, 15:25, and more).

This wakedness of Colossians 4:2 comes about as our vision is lifted to the good and mighty God who is on the verge of fulfilling His wondrous promises. The best way to lift our vision to behold God at work in our world is to thank Him. Whenever we authentically thank God, we fix our vision on something He has already accomplished. As we thank God in the rubble and chaos of the running events of our lives, we can pick out of the muddle of apparently random occurances the hand and life of God at work. Once we get going in thanksgiving we can recognize some of the beauty and mystery of His ways in fulfilling His purposes.

Why is this so essential to devoting ourselves to pray? By devoted prayer I think Paul is describing sustained prayer that persistently pursues fulfillment of God’s promise and purpose. To keep ourselves engaged in prayer for any person, people or place, I think we have to be able to envision what God’s purpose is for them. Instead of trying to go clairvoyant and guess about what God desires for someone, we get to thank our way into the story of what God has already been doing. Thanksgiving is relational — we actually encounter God, communicating gratitude. Thanksgiing is also revelatory — God is pleased to reveal His works and ways as we thank Him. Instead of merely thinking about what to pray, we get to thank our way into God’s all-encompassing story. Instead of thanks coming at the end of our prayer regimen, it may be the best place to begin. And it’s probably the only way to be persistent, or devoted, in prayer.
Our western concept of happiness, contentment, and success is anchored very much upon the belief & worship of one’s possession. Christians are not immune to this either. We look for, long for ‘God’s blessings ‘of which we have small comprehension. Blessings come from pain & trials as well as the other more 'acceptable' ways. Our definition of good is far from God’s. His good is intimacy with us; our good is what is comfortable for us. This leads to ungrateful hearts from hearts of misunderstanding. The need for intercessors, mediators is great just as our corporate need of our Intercessor, The Mediator!

As I contemplate God’s Sovereignty & dwell upon His Character, praises naturally flow. This prepares my heart to embrace 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19: pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.

The key to living & rebuilding is found within these verses. How are we able to give thanks IN ALL circumstances? Some circumstances do NOT bring about choruses of thanksgiving from our flesh. It is a work of the Spirit these praises come from & to not to release them is to quench the Spirit. I must first meet God by communing with Him in prayer, walking in awareness of Him constantly, recognizing His authority over my life and everything that comes my way, in order for my response to be of the Spirit & not my flesh – creating in me a heart of thanksgiving.

Let the praises flow! Let non-believers be drawn by Jesus in us by it! Let believers be refreshed, encouraged, revived!

God inhabits the praise of His people! (Psalms 22:3)
My favorite story in the Bible regarding Thanksgiving is the Luke 17 recounting of Jesus healing ten lepers. One of them, who happened to be a foreigner, returned to give thanks. Jesus' response was essentially to ask where the other nine were. All kinds of sermons get written about the significance of various points in the story, but what really gets me is this: Gratitude matters to Jesus! He cares whether we recognize his gifts and take time out to thank him for them. More than any impact on me or on my community, I think thanksgiving is significant because it actually makes an impact on God Himself. It's actually a bit astounding.

To Phil's original question, I think we all understand how much thanksgiving alters our own perspectives and helps us draw nearer to God. And it's not too much of a stretch to say that as those outside the family of God see that attitude in us, it's bound to be attractive to them - especially when contrasted with the typical entitlement mentality in America today.

I think it's interesting to consider the potential impact on congregations and churches. It seems to me that thanksgiving is in one sense very closely related to stewardship. Both are recognitions that all we have comes from God and that he has blessed us of his own free will. That being said, I wonder if a thankful congregation tends to be a more giving congregation. Would a pervasive spirit of thanksgiving in a congregation lead to overall wiser stewardship and ultimately more giving back to God? If so, then would our "stewardship campaigns" be better served to focus, not on the duty of tithing, but on cultivating thankful spirits? Seems consistent with Paul's note in 2 Corinthians 9:7 about giving cheerfully rather than under compulsion.
Thanksgiving Prayer Time
By Lowell Snow – www.leadingprayer.com

[Instructions at conclusion]

[Introduction]
“It pleases God when His people remember the good that He has done and express their thankfulness to Him in prayer.

“Let’s spend the next few minutes praying silently together in an attitude of appreciation and adoration of our Heavenly Father.

“Would you bow your heads with me now as I guide us in this time of silent prayer? Please bow with me now. [wait 3 seconds]

[Scripture Meditation:]
“With your heads bowed; listen to these words from a psalm of David that was first sung over 3,000 years ago.

Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!

[wait 2 seconds]

Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! [1 Chron 16:8-9 NKJV]

[wait 2 seconds]

[Visualization: David bringing ark into Jerusalem]
“With your head still bowed; think back to the time when David was King in Jerusalem. It’s a day of great celebration. King David is bringing the Ark of the Covenant to it’s new Tabernacle in Jerusalem. Many thousands of people have come to see the golden Ark of God brought into the city of peace.

“Imagine that you’re there waiting and hoping for an opportunity to see the Ark go by. You’ve heard about it all your life, but never dreamed you’d see it. This is the very Ark made in the time of Moses. The Ark that carries the very presence and power of God. In the presence of this icon of holiness - rivers stopped, city walls fell, pagan idols toppled over, and great armies fled in terror.

“As you watch, a procession of hundreds of priests go by singing and playing instruments. They sing about the great miracles that God has done and the wonders of His creation.

“What will you do when you see the Ark? Should you bow in silence? Should you shout for joy? Then someone points and yells, “It’s coming!”

“Carried on golden poles by strong young priests; the Ark of God comes toward you. Your mind is filled with wonder and amazement by all that it represents.

[wait 2 seconds]

“As the Ark nears, your hands reach for the heavens and the song of David leaps from your heart:

"Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! [1 Chron 16:31-34 NKJV]

[wait 2 seconds]

[Guided silent prayer]
“Would you pray silently right now and praise God for something wonderful He’s done in your life. [wait one second] “It could be something He’s done recently or long ago.

“It could be something He’s done for you personally or for your family.

[wait three seconds]

“Now praise Him silently for something wonderful in His creation.

[wait three seconds]

“Count your blessings to Him. Thank Him for as many good things as you can think of.

[wait seven seconds]

“Thank Him for each member of your family and pray briefly for each one.

[wait ten seconds]

“For the next few moments, let’s thank God for the wonderful things He’s done for America.

“Thank Him for leading our founding fathers to build a nation based on the Bible.

[wait three seconds]

“Thank Him for our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

[wait three seconds]

“Thank Him for all the soldiers who’ve fought to preserve our freedom.

[wait three seconds]

“Thank Him for Godly men and women who serve faithfully in government.

[wait one second]

“Pray silently for any government officials you know by name.

[wait ten seconds]

“Now pray silently the following prayer as I pray it out loud.

“Heavenly Father. We owe so much to you. The lives that we live here in America, are what our forefathers dreamed of and prayed for. Their prayers have come to pass in our prosperity and freedom.

[wait one second]

“Dear Lord, as a nation; we are guilty of becoming complacent in our prosperity. We have assumed that we would not have to continue the struggle for the liberty and luxury handed down to us.

[wait one second]

“Some have forgotten that everything good is from you. Like the ancient Israelites, many have become ungrateful and sinful. We are reminded of these words from Your Holy Bible:

…they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful , but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools… [Rom 1:20-22 NKJV]

[wait three seconds]

“Lord, we do not want to become fools. We are gathered here today because we still believe in You. We are thankful to You and we desire to live lives that are pleasing to You.

[wait one second]

“But Lord we are also aware that we are sinners. Our thoughts and motives are too often of this world and to seldom heavenly.

[wait one second]

“Father, we pray for revival in our land.

[wait one second]

“We pray for revival in our churches.

[wait one second]

“We…pray for revival in our own hearts and minds.

[wait three seconds]

[Benediction:]
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. [Eph.3:20-21 NKJV]

______________________________________

[Guiding the prayer time:]
If this is the first time you’ve led a guided prayer time; read over sections 1 and 3 in Prayer Guide – A Manual for Leading Prayer; listen to a guided prayer time on my web site, DVD, or CD; and then practice reading this one out loud. Feel free to copy it into your word processor and edit it however you want.

If you’ve led this type of prayer time before, use your own words and just follow the outline.

If you’re leading a worship service; you might ask for instrumental music to be played very softly in the background. This background music should not have a recognizable melody. Some musicians can play beautiful chord progressions that work well. Others will find it easier to play the chords of an unfamiliar hymn or song.

The prayer time should come at the heart of worship with at least one song before and after. Try to eliminate ‘dead time’ before and after the prayer time. Click here for more help or see Appendix 2 in the back of the Prayer Guide book.

As you lead the prayer time - [Don’t read the instructions in brackets]

As you read the scriptural meditation - emphasize any words in bold.

As printed, the prayer time takes about seven minutes.

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