Running the Race: Giving Thanks in Prayer - Hope 103.2

Running the Race: Giving Thanks in Prayer

This week on Running the Race Mal Gill lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC) teaches us about the first of three aspects to prayer which will help you in your personal prayer life. What have you got for us this week, Mal?Prayer is one of the hard things in the Christian life. Prayer […]

By Sam RobinsonMonday 25 Jul 2016FRESHChristian LivingReading Time: 5 minutes

This week on Running the Race Mal Gill lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC) teaches us about the first of three aspects to prayer which will help you in your personal prayer life. What have you got for us this week, Mal?

Prayer is one of the hard things in the Christian life. Prayer can be challenging. So I’m going to get back to the basics. By that, I mean with our family. We’ve got a couple of young kids, and I’ve been reminded some of the basics of prayer by praying with my kids. Normally, when I pray with my kids, there’s three things that we pray, and that’s not just because I’m a Christian. We have to have three things.

Start with Thanksgiving in Prayer

But I like to pray prayers of thanksgiving. So I’ll often start the prayers with my children, “Thank you for” and they’ll finish the sentence. “Sorry for,” they’ll finish the sentence. “And I pray for,” and they’ll finish the sentence. So that’s what we’re going to do.

It’s a good thing to start praying with thanks, right? Why is it so important to start prayer with thanks?

I think sometimes we have the perception that prayer is just about asking God for things. And if you think about prayer as a relationship, if it was just every time I saw my son, he just asked me for something, it wouldn’t be much of a relationship.

And I just think there’s an attitude of thankfulness that’s nice as a father when you have a relationship with your children that they say thank you. So I remember going to my daughter’s school recently, and they gave out awards. And sometimes, they have a lucky door prize or a raffle, all those sorts of things. And it was really interesting. When the principal was giving out awards, one of the things that they tried to emphasise to the children is that when you come up to receive your award or your prize, is that the very first thing you do is shake the hand of the principal.

It’s excellent that the principal before they would grab anything, make sure that they say, “thank you” and put their hand out. And I’ve discovered I think in my prayer life, it’s a good way to start, is by saying thank you. Because I would say even as an adult often, I just ask God for things but learning to be a thankful person is appropriate.

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So even as you look right through the Bible. We go back to the Old Testament, and God establishes a system of worship, and in the midst of that, our Thanksgiving offerings. You open up the “songbook of Israel,” the Psalms, and they have verses like this, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of God. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of Lords. His love endures forever.”

So this idea of giving thanks is crucial. And I think it’s important because it acknowledges we’ve got good things, and they’ve come from you, God. And I think there’s something appropriate that we don’t just accept the gift and the good things that we receive, but also we’re thankful for them.

What do you say to someone who’s perhaps going through a hard time and is finding that it’s hard to be thankful for stuff?

I do think there are seasons like that. And we’ll talk about some of those struggles where we ask things. In short, we do go through difficult times. But even then when we’re going through difficult times I remember going through a serious illness in a hospital, and I was crying out to God and asking God for things. But at the same time, I was in a hospital in a western country getting good medicine. So sometimes, it’s easy to forget about the good things that we even have. The fact that I have medicine, that Medicare covers me, all these blessings. So that’s why Paul says, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father.” And so it’s whatever circumstances, whatever you’re doing. And so, just by even reflecting on what that looks like in day-to-day life.

I often just assume that I’ve got these good things, and I love to ask God for these good things. But I don’t often pause and say thank you. So I’m in the habit now of when I’m at the petrol station filling up, just saying, “Thank you God for a good job where I can fill up my car.”

At the supermarket, thanking God for food. So not just at dinner time at the table, but learning to have thankfulness as a way of life. When I’m at the beach, “Thank you for your good creation. Thank you for a beautiful day. Thank you for friends.” I think it’s learning to be regular in that habit of just saying thank you. Just as I as a parent love it when my kids say thank you. Just as the principal loves it when kids say thank you and they receive an award. I think there’s something appropriate for doing that as Christians.

I’m sure that God appreciates our thanks as well. Malcolm, it’s been an encouragement. Next, we’re going to continue to talk about prayer, and how to say sorry to God.

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Each Sunday, FRESH presenter Sam Robinson chats with Malcolm Gill, lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC), about different aspects of living the Christian life—or ‘running the race’. Hear them on-air Sundays at 6.20am and 9.20am, or on FRESH just after 9pm each Saturday.