In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
A study by psychologist Robert Emmons divided volunteers into three groups that each made weekly entries in journals. One group wrote five things they were grateful for. One described five daily hassles. And a control group listed five events that had impacted them in a small way. The results of the study revealed that those in the gratitude group felt better about their lives overall, were more optimistic about the future, and reported fewer health problems.
Giving thanks has a way of changing the way we look at life. Thanksgiving can even make us happier.
The Bible has long extolled the benefits of giving thanks to God, as doing so reminds us of His character. The Psalms repeatedly call God’s people to give Him thanks because “the Lord is good and his love endures forever” (Psalm 100:5) and to thank Him for His unfailing love and wonderful deeds (107:8, 15, 21, 31).
As the apostle Paul closed his letter to the Philippians—the letter itself a kind of thank-you note to a church that had supported him—he linked thankful prayers with the peace of God “which transcends all understanding” (4:7). When we focus on God and His goodness, we find that we can pray without anxiety, in every situation, with thanksgiving. Giving thanks brings us a peace that uniquely guards our hearts and minds and changes the way we look at life. A heart full of gratitude nurtures a spirit of joy.
What threatens your sense of gratitude? How is God calling you to a “happy thanksgiving” as you bring your needs before Him?
Father in heaven, where I see problems, grant me a spirit of gratitude and grateful praise.
Paul frequently used a literary device in his writing known as asyndeton—a deliberate omission of conjunctions to be as concise and persuasive as possible. He employed this device at the end of his letter to the church in Philippi (Philippians 4:4–7), where he gives four admonitions: “rejoice” (twice); “let your gentleness be evident to all”; “do not be anxious,” and “present your requests to God.” While on the surface these instructions may seem disconnected, the meaning of the words gentleness and anxious points to the context of the persecution the Philippians were suffering. The use of asyndeton adds a motivating force to his words. From his own circumstances of being persecuted, Paul was writing with as much force and emphasis as he could muster to encourage the Philippian believers to hold on to Jesus and express their faith well.