Today we are continuing in our message series, Praying the Psalms. Each message in this series will look at a particular type of psalm. God desires for us to learn to pray these psalms to enrich and expand our prayer lives.
Last Sunday, our message topic was Prayers of Help. This is the topic that we naturally gravitate to in our prayers. When we’re in trouble, we call out to God for help. That’s what God wants us to do. But there should be much more to our prayers than simply asking for God’s help. If we’re not careful and our prayers are only about our problems, we can become discouraged. That’s where all the different types of psalms can help us to diversify our prayer lives.
Today we’re going to look at the importance of giving thanks to God. To introduce the topic, let’s watch a video entitled “Where Thanksgiving Begins.”
So, our message today is entitled “Prayers of Thanks.” The topic of thanks is an important topic in the Psalms. The word thank or thanks is used 49 times throughout the Psalms. When we have a heart of thankfulness, it lefts the soul and brings joy to us. Thankfulness helps us to replace worry with peace in our lives.
Ephesians 5:20 (ESV) giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
This verse instructs us to give thanks at all times and for everything. How can we possibly follow that instruction? We can give thanks continually because God is in control of everything in our lives. You might ask, What about the bad things? God is able to work all things together for good to those who love God. In case you’re wondering if this is the only verse that tells us to give thanks always, let’s look at …
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
No matter what circumstance you might find yourself in, whether pleasant or painful, you can give thanks that God is with you and will help you through it.
James 1:2 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
If God makes it possible for us to face trials with joy, then we can give Him thanks for and in the midst of them. These instructions apply only to believers, who have the Holy Spirit living inside of them. Because of Jesus, there are always many, many things to be thankful for each and every day. And as we give thanks, along with asking for help, we will experience joy, even in the midst of trials. Today, we’re going to look at some things that we can be thankful for, no matter what we’re experiencing.
Psalm 32 is a psalm written by David, who wrote the majority of psalms.
Psalm 32:1-2 (ESV) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
This psalm is about thanking God for His forgiveness of our sins. As we all have sinned and as believers, we all have been and are being forgiven, we have much to be thankful for. When we are forgiven, when our sinned is covered by the blood of Jesus, we are blessed. Once your sins are forgiven, God does not count those sins against you. You are cleansed and washed clean by God’s forgiveness. However, forgiveness is never automatic, even for believers.
Psalm 32:5 (ESV) I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Repentance for sin involves confessing and acknowledging it to the Lord. Our natural tendency is to minimize or seek to hide our sin. Hidden sin is not forgiven. The teaching that all the sins of a believer are automatically forgiven and you no longer have to repent or turn away from them is a false teaching. The forgiveness of the Lord is conditional on our repentance. Repentance is not simply being sorry for the consequences of our sin. True repentance means that you make a decision to no longer sin in that way. You turn away from your past and future sin.
Psalm 32:6-7 (ESV) Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, that is the time when we can find the forgiveness of the Lord. Habitual sin sears the conscience and there can come a time when the forgiveness of God can no longer be found. Those who daily confess their sins find the Lord to be a safe hiding place, protecting from trouble and temptation. Give thanks for God’s forgiveness.
One of the principles we see in this Psalm, as we read it in its entirety is that David recounts his entire experience with forgiveness. He recounts the misery of trying to hide his sin and refusing to repent for a season. Then he remembers of the joy and the blessing of confessing and being forgiven.
Often our prayers are much too short and too condensed. There are times to recall the sins that God has forgiven you of and to thank Him for being cleansed. No matter what is happening in this life, believers can always be thankful for forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a blessing in this life and makes possible an eternity with the Lord as well. Not only is heaven and eternal life in our future, but hell and eternal death are not in our future. We have much to be thankful concerning God’s forgiveness.
Psalm 116:1-2 (ESV) I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The unknown psalmist begins by expressing his love for the Lord. He is thankful to the Lord for hearing his prayer and showing him compassion or mercy. He makes a confession that he will call on the Lord till the end of his life. We see thankfulness for God’s compassion leading to recommitment in our lives.
Psalm 116:5-7 (ESV) Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
These verses tell us more about God’s compassion. He is gracious and merciful. He is a God of second third and many chances to get back on track with God.
One line says that God preserves the simple. The simple are the naïve, those who are still learning about life and God. The simple make a lot of mistakes, fall into sins and dangers they are not even aware of. Some is simply part of growing up physically, other is part of growing up spiritually. The Lord preserves the simple, He looks after them.
When we get in trouble, He reaches out and saves us. The psalmist is thankful to the Lord for giving him rest and blessing him.
Psalm 116:17-18 (ESV) I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
These verses are near the conclusion of the psalm. The psalmist speaks of offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The sacrifice of thanksgiving is an important concept for us to think about. We are tempted to only give thanks to God when things are going well and we feel like it. But a sacrifice of thanksgiving is something that costs us. We offer thanksgiving, not because it is easy, but because of what God has done.
The last part of these verses speaks of fulfilling vows or promises to the Lord with other believers. Thanksgiving is not just to be a private affair. When we offer thanks to the Lord before others, we encourage them and give glory to God. Give thanks for God’s compassion.
God is constantly showing His children compassion in their lives. He often does things for us, provides, protects and guides when we don’t even ask Him. If we really took time during the day to ponder on the things we were thankful for. Then prayed those thanks back to God, it would make a world of difference in our lives and attitudes.
Then we see in this psalm the concept of giving public thanks to the Lord. Today, we call this giving a testimony or we’ve referred to it as a God Story. A God story is an account of God working in and through your life that you wish to give God public thanks for. Some God stories may be big, a healing from a major disease. Others may be not so big, but just giving thanks for the compassion of God in the normal affairs of life. Providing, protecting and guiding. If you’ve got a God story to tell, something that you’re thankful for, let me know. We’ll give you an opportunity to share in our service for a few minutes. When you share a God story you are telling others about what God has done and giving Him public thanks.
Psalm 118:1 (ESV) Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 118 begins with the beautiful call to give thanks to the Lord. Two reasons are given. First of all, God is good. Very simple words, but a profound concept. God is good, completely good, good all the time, never bad, never evil, never unjust. No person you’ve ever known is completely good. But we can give thanks to the Lord for His goodness.
His goodness is rooted in His steadfast love, which is never ending. For those two things, the goodness of God and His love, we can be eternally thankful.
Psalm 118:6 (ESV) The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
Since God is good and loving, the Lord is on the side of the believer who is walking with Him. If God is with us, we can be thankful that we need not fear. No person can separate us from the love of God as we walk with Him.
Psalm 118:14, 19 (ESV) The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. … Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.
The psalmist gives thanks to God for being His strength, His song and His salvation. As we pray these things back to God, reflect on how God has been the strength of your life. How He has brough a song into your heart when you’ve been low. And most of all, how He has saved you and given you eternal life because of His great love for you.
The psalmist speaks of entering the gates of righteousness of the heavenly city so that He can give thanks to the Lord. Thanksgiving springs from a heart that is walking in righteousness. Those who are falling away into sin do not have thanks in their hearts. In fact, a barometer of your spiritual condition is how much thanks are you giving the Lord on a daily basis.
Psalm 118:28-29 (ESV) You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 118 ends with these two verses. The psalmist repeats the phrase “you are my God.” Even though God is God of the whole world and the entire universe, He is also a personal God, He is my God, He is your God. He created you and knows everything about you. He knows every thought that you think, both good and bad and still loves you. Surely that is a great reason to give thanks to God. The psalm ends in verse 29 by exhorting the reader once again to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and steadfast love that lasts forever. Give thanks for God’s love.
Because we are living in the last days, we have an even deeper understanding of the love of God for us. God loved us so much that He sent His son Jesus to die for us on the cross, so that we might have our sins forgiven and be saved from a destiny of destruction. Sometimes, it would be good to ponder the depth of the sin that God rescued each one of us from through His great love.
None of us deserved to be loved by God. None of us deserved to have someone die for us. Yet, that’s what Jesus did. The love of God was fully expressed on the cross at Calvary. And not only did Jesus die for us, but He rose from the dead for us. He lives to show us His love, both in this life and for eternity. We will eternally be thankful for God’s love.
So today, God wants to challenge you and me to remember to give thanks to God. Not just at Thanksgiving or at our meals, but throughout every day of our lives. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all the issues in our country, let’s give thanks for the blessings that we do have. Give thanks for God’s forgiveness for all our sins. Give thanks for God’s compassion and care for us and our families. Give thanks for God’s unending love for each one of us.
Use the psalms that we studied this morning to guide your prayers. The more thanksgiving there is in our lives, the more joy of the Lord we will experience. And no matter what tomorrow brings, the joy of the Lord will be your strength.