Thanks in Advance?

"You can't just seek God for what He can do for you. You have to seek Him for who He is." - Jennifer LeClaire, Dream Wild

Be honest; how much of your time with God is taken up by whining, questioning, petitioning, or asking for help for yourself or for those around you?


Looking back through my prayer journal over one week in February, I counted that I asked God for help a grand total of eleven times, and I thanked Him only twice.


Sometimes God must think we act like needy little children, demanding everything, asking millions of 'but why's?' and throwing a little tantrum whenever we don't get what we want.



And yes, in a way that's not always a bad thing! Jesus says we should be like little children (Mt 18:1-5). God loves that we converse with Him, and feel comfortable bringing Him all our needs. There is absolutely a place for questioning and petitioning - even Jesus asked God for help in the moments before His passion began.


But of course, God, being the great Father that He is, isn't going to grant every single one of our requests. He knows better than we do what we truly need to succeed and thrive, and He has the whole picture in mind, not just the now.


However instead of having a mindset of gratitude, and focusing on all the good God has done and all the prayers He has answered, we tend to get stuck focusing on the opposite - the unanswered prayers, the times He didn't seem to help.


If we know that God is good (Psalm 107:1), He provides for our every need (Mt 6:26-34), and He loves us so much He was even willing to send His only Son to suffer and die so we could live united with Him (Jn 3:16) - then where is our sense of trust and our unwavering faith in our Lord's ability to provide?

"You can't just seek God for what He can do for you. You have to seek Him for who He is." - Jennifer LeClaire, Dream Wild

There is absolutely no harm in asking God for help or support. Like I said, He loves it! But what if rather than asking in our whiniest, desperate-est voice, we asked in a 'tone' totally convinced of God's goodness and His ability to provide?


St Paul put it best in Philippians 4:6 when he wrote;

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

In short, present your requests to God WITH THANKSGIVING.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have this bread to offer you, fruit of the earth and work of human hands. It will become for us the Bread of Life.'

Now that is a request made with thanksgiving, without anxiety but with total conviction in God's ability to provide. Can you imagine if the priest got up to this part in the Holy Mass and cautiously stuttered out; "Lord, if you want to, please turn this bread into the Bread of Life. I'd really like you to, and I think it's the right thing for you to do." Or "Hurry up please Lord, everyone's watching and it doesn't seem like you're doing anything..."


Great things happen when people pray with thanksgiving!


I recently heard of what is called 'The Hall of Faith,' Hebrews chapter 11 (have a read of it some time if you're struggling to believe in God's goodness). It lists some amazing Old Testament people who were firm in their belief of God's ability to provide, convinced of things not seen (verse 1). This conviction is otherwise known as faith.


Verse 6 reads;

'And without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.'

When you make your prayers and petitions, do you truly believe that God is able and will give you what you seek? Do you have faith? Faith like Abraham, who hoped and believed that he would be a father of many nations, even though he was old and his wife was barren. Or David who faced a giant with only a few pebbles and the name of the Lord?


Looking to the New Testament, do you have faith like the woman who'd been bleeding for twelve years, and reached out to touch Jesus' cloak, to whom Jesus said; "Daughter your faith has healed you" (Mk 5:34). Or the friends of the man who was lowered through the roof? When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man, "Friend, your sins are forgiven..." (Luke 5:20).


Here's one more scripture to drive it home - James 1:5-8;

'If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.'

Today, I challenge you to make your prayers and petitions known to God with thanksgiving. Praying for safe travels? Thank God for getting you to your destination safely. Asking for healing? Thank God, the miracle worker, for providing healing. Need a new job? Thank God for it! Needing a breakthrough? Thank God for giving you the answers you're looking for. It also helps to back up your prayers with scripture, reminding yourself that our good God truly does provide.


Going back through my journal the following week, after I had come to this realisation, I counted

thirteen thank-you's. Some were in advance, but others were truly in thanksgiving for answered prayers. I was amazed at how my prayers were answered! God wasn't necessarily answering everything now that I was praying with thanksgiving. But my whole mindset had changed, so I was more receptive to the ways He was responding to my prayers, because through faith I believed that He was good and He could.

"You can't just seek God for what He can do for you. You have to seek Him for who He is." - Jennifer LeClaire, Dream Wild