“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
It’s hard for us to thank God while making our requests, for two reasons. First, because we are so focused on the need, we often wrestle with anxiety. Secondly, we typically thank someone after they’ve done something, not before. When it comes to effective prayer, thanksgiving is to both precede and follow God’s response.
Thanking God in advance for doing what you’re asking Him to do is an expression of your expectancy. It’s evidence that you’re anticipating measurable results from your prayer. When my wife Alice was pregnant with our children, we said, “She is expecting.” When you are praying in faith with pre-thanksgiving, you are praying expectantly. You expect to see God answer your prayer in an observable, verifiable way.
Our faith and thanksgiving are not based on what we see. They are based upon God’s character (who He is, what He’s done in the past, and what He’s promised to do in the future). We’re to walk by faith, not by sight.
Lord Jesus, there are days when my ungrateful heart needs to be lifted to a higher level of faith and expectancy. Teach me to be filled with grateful anticipation as I await Your response to prayers that are filled with faith! Thank You for showing me how to line up my prayers with the Father, as You did when You walked on this earth! May I have a heart that is filled with gratitude that the God of the Universe cares for me, and desires to use me to accomplish His plans in this lost and hurting world.
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 39, The Secret of Single-Minded Prayer by Eddie Smith). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God for the good gifts he gives to those who ask him (Mt. 7:11). Give thanks, even in the midst of pain all around, that God’s gifts are good. Confess your lack of quality time spent with God in prayer (Rom. 8:26). Commit yourself to modeling Jesus’ example of praying in solitary places (Mk. 1:35). Ask God to give you a real devotion to prayer—being watchful and thankful, making the most of every opportunity (Col. 4:2-5).
Ask God to use emergency or crisis situations in the lives of unsaved people to bring them to the foot of the cross. Pray for eyes to see how you can help in such situations.
“One of the most common weaknesses of our prayer lives is the vagueness of our focus. . . . Petition saves us from that. It forces us to be specific, to be precise, to clarify our wants and desires.” —Maxie Dunnam
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