Whenever my four year-old prays, she always formats her prayers the same way – she thanks God, even if it is a request. For example, if I suggest we pray for someone with an ear infection, she’ll say, “Thank you, God, for healing Brett’s ear.” When I asked her to pray for me for a teaching engagement I had, she laid hands on me and prayed, “Thank you God for helping Mommy teach. Thank you for the ladies who will be at her conference. Thank you that they love you…In Jesus’ name.”
No matter the person or situation, giving thanks is how she prays – at meals, for her friends at bedtime, for anyone in need of physical healing.
I’m not sure how she learned to pray this way, but I’m encouraged to follow her example for several reasons. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” The Bible underscores that giving thanks is supposed to be a hallmark of our most desperate crying out to God!
Secondly, scripture says that the way we are to enter the Lord’s presence is by giving thanks: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4 – NIV). Thanking God and praising Him is how we enter fellowship with Him.
My favorite part about her praying this way is that, whether on purpose or not, my daughter’s perpetually thankful prayers presuppose the fact that the prayer is already answered: that the healing has already taken place, that the gospel message has already been received, that her friends will most assuredly have good days.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In the most trying of circumstances and with the most trying people, there is always room to thank the Lord. For thanksgiving is spiritual warfare. In offering up our gratitude, regardless of the situation, we begin to change the atmosphere in the heavenly realm and to open up the way for God’s blessing (Psalm 50:23). In thanksgiving, our spirits can enter into real communion with God, overriding our tendency toward “fleshly” prayers, as we bring all our cares before Him.