Over seven years of raising children, our home has accumulated a great deal of toys. As all parents know, toys easily get lost. One night, this happened to a toy my sons really wanted. So that night, we prayed that we would find it.
Remembering a command in the book of Philippians, I told the boys that first, in our prayers, we would thank God for all the toys they already had, and then we would pray that He would help them locate this other toy. On the third night of praying this way with them, a thought occurred to me of a place I had not looked. Getting up from the prayer, I went to this place, and there it was!
The verse in Philippians reads: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).
Is it not truly mind-staggering that the great God of this limitless universe allows us not only to talk to Him in prayer, but also to make requests of Him? Though He prohibits coveting, lusting and greediness, He is a benevolent, generous God who wants us to prosper even with material blessings (Malachi 3:10).
This munificent Being also commands throughout His Word that we be thankful for all that we’re given. That our prayers should be filled with thanksgiving also goes without saying. But here in Philippians 4:6 is a more specific lesson in prayer: Even when making requests of God, we are commanded to do so with a grateful attitude.
Those of this materialistic society try to get more based on their attitude of ungratefulness—of never being completely satisfied with what they have. If our prayers have that spirit—if we ask for things out of lust—they will yield no results (James 4:3). But grateful prayers can produce amazing results!
When King Jehoshaphat heard reports that the Ammonite and Moabite armies were going to attack Judah, he proclaimed a fast among the people. His effectual prayer is recorded in 2 Chronicles 20. First he began to praise God’s greatness (verses 6-9), essentially thanking God for His incredible power. then he brought up the problem of converging enemies. You can read how dramatically God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer in verse 22, when God Himself caused the enemy armies to destroy each other!
Is there something you need, or even desire, for which you have been petitioning God? If you have a grateful attitude and you preface your request with that thankfulness, will God not want to shower you with that blessing if it is good for you?
Take any material need. Say you desperately need a new pair of shoes. God says to cast all your cares upon Him—nothing is too small to take to your heavenly Father (1 Peter 5:7). If you begin your prayer by praising God for everything He owns and profusely thanking Him for providing you with so many physical blessings—your shelter, food, clothing—and then you bring up that you just have this one small need—request that of God under those circumstances and see if God will not make the answer abundantly clear!
Is this how we ask God for deliverance from a health trial? Do we thank Him for every single health benefit we experience outside of the certain area where we currently suffer? When God’s ministers anoint someone, as James 5:14 directs, they will commonly bring up the physical beating and sacrifice of Jesus Christ—who was wounded for our transgressions. That helps us to remember that none of us are suffering as greatly as He did—that is something for which anyone in any health trial can be thankful. The minister will thank God directly or indirectly for that sacrifice, helping the person hearing the prayer to be just as thankful.
So use this powerful tool in your prayers: Preface your requests with profuse thanksgiving—gratefulness directly associated with what you are asking for. Teach this lesson to your children—to be thankful to you as a parent, and ultimately to the great, generous God!