The Power of a Thankful Heart

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

It is not always easy to give thanks, but this is the very thing we must do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. This is how we move into higher realms of faith for ourselves, for our city, and for our nation. When we give thanks in the midst of difficulty, we bring pleasure to God’s heart and breakthrough begins. He is looking for people who live in a realm of praise and thanksgiving where the enemy no longer has an ability to hold or manipulate. Satan is defeated when we have a thankful heart because thankfulness during difficulty is a sacrifice pleasing to God. Are you thankful?

  • Are you thankful for your present circumstances?
  • Are you thankful for your salvation, your friendships, and your job?
  • Are you thankful for the way God made you?

Thankfulness is a key to your life. It is the key that turns your situation around because it changes you, your outlook, and your attitude. There is power in a thankful heart. Thanksgiving brings contentment. An attitude of thanksgiving accepts and embraces God’s will. Begin to thank God for all the blessings he has given instead of dwelling on the negative. Discontent dries up the soul. Look at what Elisabeth Elliott, who lost her husband on the mission field and faced multitudes of hardships, says about loving God’s will and being content:

“To love God is to love His will. It is to wait quietly for life to be measured by one who knows us through and through. It is to be content with His timing and His wise apportionment. It is to follow in the steps of the Master, as did Paul, who was able to say that he had learned contentment no matter what the circumstances. His circumstances when he wrote that? Prison. No easy lesson, but great gain, which is the sum of godliness plus contentment (1 Timothy 6:6).”

Look at the example of Jesus. He followed the will of His Father to the very end. He obeyed without complaint. In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul says that we should have that same attitude. Jesus made Himself nothing and took on the very nature of a servant. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death. We also are to have this same attitude with a humble and thankful acceptance of God’s will for our lives. Jesus embraced hardship without a complaint.

The Duke of Wellington was a British military leader who regretted that he had not learned the secret of praise during his lifetime. He had many great accomplishments and even defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. He was a brilliant and demanding man and when he was older, he realized that there were areas in his life that needed to change. In his old age a woman asked him this question, “What would you do differently if you had your life to live over again?”

He thought carefully and said, “I would give more praise.”

This is a lesson for all of us. To learn to be people of praise and thanksgiving to God all the days of our lives would be a great accomplishment. There is greatness and happiness in thanksgiving.

“Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world?… It is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it… Could you therefore work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit, for it turns all that it touches into happiness.”
William Law

David writes in Psalm 116:17, “I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.” Did you know that thanking God for a difficulty is actually an offering that He highly values? You are bringing a gift of thanks to Him. It is so easy to complain. It is so easy to point the finger and find fault. But to come with the opposite attitude and give thanks brings breakthrough and joyful contentment.

How to Practice Thankfulness

Let each of us seek to have an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving, and rise to a new level of holiness. Here are some ways to practice this attitude in everyday life:

  • Thank and praise God for everything in your life – Thank Him for even the difficulties. It is a sacrifice to do this but He can turn troubles into triumph.“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).
  • Don’t allow yourself to complain about anything – During the difficult times, be very careful to watch your tongue. Instead of complaining, think of ways you can verbally offer God the sacrifice of thanksgiving.“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:14-15).
  • Don’t compare yourself with others – Don’t wish your life were different. God knows what is best. The Bible says that having a thankful heart is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. When we begin to thank God for what we have, rather than comparing ourselves with others, it opens the door for God’s blessings.“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else” (Galatians 6:4).

Most of us are in need of breakthroughs in prayer. The enemy is fighting hard with fiery darts of discouragement and lies. The way we will begin to deal with the lies and the vicious ways he tries to destroy our joy is through the power of a thankful heart. As we cultivate a lifestyle of worship and praise in the magnificent splendor of God, we will be able to break through the strategies of the enemy. A worshipful and thankful life permeates the atmosphere with the presence of God, because worship is the atmosphere where God’s truth dwells.

These new web sites on prayer will help you grow in your walk with God with an attitude of thanksgiving – Intercessors Arise International and Nations House of Prayer Equipping Center.

“God smiles when we praise and thank Him continually. Few things feel better than receiving heartfelt praise and appreciation from someone else. God loves it, too… An amazing thing happens when we offer praise and thanksgiving to God. When we give God enjoyment, our own hearts are filled with joy.” William Law

By Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International
International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC)
deb@intercessorsarise.org

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The Need for Prayerful Encouragement

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

I’ve heard it said, “Be kind to everyone for everyone is going through some kind of battle.” If we are not in a present battle, we are either entering one or coming out of one. The days are getting more difficult and we must do everything we can to support and encourage one another along life’s journey. We read in Hebrews 10:25, “but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” A positive word or encouraging prayer can change one’s perspective in difficulty and make a huge difference in a person’s life.

We all know how deeply we long for others to encourage us. Let us be the ones to lift the burdens of others through a simple word and prayer of encouragement. The word “encourage” in Webster’s Dictionary means: “to give or increase confidence of success; to inspire with courage, or strength of mind, to embolden, to incite, to inspirit.” We need to represent Jesus Christ to others by increasing the confidence and courage in them to do great things for God. Just as He is our refuge and our tower of strength, we need to be a safe and encouraging place for others.

One homemaker was able to encourage multitudes of men and women to live a healthier life. Jean Nidetch was a 214-pound homemaker who, like so many others, was desperate to lose weight. She finally went on a special diet, but it was so hard. Two months later she was totally discouraged because she could not lose the weight (50+ pounds!) Jean though of an idea! She decided to invite six of her overweight friends home to share about the diet and discuss how to stay on it. Today, about 30 years later, over one million members attend 250,000 Weight Watchers meetings in 24 countries every week.

Why could this woman help so many people take control of their lives? What was her amazing secret?

When Jean was a teenager, she used to pass a park where she saw mothers gossiping while their children sat on their swings without anyone to push them. Jean would go over and give them a push. She noticed that when you push children on a swing, soon they are pumping and doing it themselves. This became her role in life. She said, “I’m there to give others a push.” This is why so many people could lose weight through weight watchers. She would give them a push of encouragement and soon they were losing weight themselves! Words cheer up an anxious and troubled heart (Proverbs 10:25).

We must realize the power of the tongue. Solomon says in Proverbs 18:21, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” We often are not tongue conscious, and instead of inspiring others with courage, we may bring great discouragement with our words. Did you know that it takes a baby two years to learn to talk and 60 years to learn to keep his mouth shut? If you filled a library with a lifetime of your words, what would be the titles of the books in it? Our tongues have potential to build up or cause destruction.

The Bible speaks much about the tongue. The book of Proverbs speaks of both the evil and good side of the tongue. Tongue, lips, mouth and words appear 150 times in Proverbs. James 3:1-12 speaks with greatest authority and impact on the subject of the evil side of the tongue. James compares the tongue with the rudder on a ship. It has a powerful influence. A rudder on a ship, though small, steers a ship to its destiny. He also speaks of the tongue as like a fire’s spark which can set a whole forest on fire! (James 3:4-5).

If life and death are in the power of the tongue and we can set a great forest on fire through our words, how can we learn to tame our tongue and use it for God’s glory?

How to Tame Our Tongue

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

Let’s diligently practice the following ways to tame our tongue, while study carefully these Scriptures:

  • Acknowledge our dependence on God – We cannot control our tongue by our self. We need to ask God for help. Even David had difficulty in controlling his tongue (Psalm 39:1-3).
  • Admit and confess sins of the tongue – We need to come into the presence of God, ask Him to reveal any sin areas in our speech, and confess the sins of the tongue. God promises to forgive us (1 John 1:9).
  • Be sensitive in our speech towards others – We need to think before we speak. We must ask God to give us sensitivity towards others and alert us to negative speech even before we say it (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Fill our mind with Scripture on a daily basis – What we feed into our spirit, comes out of our mouths. If we fill our minds with God’s Word, we can better help and encourage one another in speech and in prayer. God’s Word can judge the thoughts and attitudes of our heart (Hebrews 4:12).
  • Don’t listen to negative speech or gossip – It will only bring us down and tempt us to sin in our speech. Gossip hurts deeply and is a snare (Proverbs 18:7-8).
  • Cultivate the art of listening to others – Many of us are good talkers but not good listeners. The Bible says that we should be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).
  • Spend time in praise and thanksgiving to God – This puts us into the atmosphere of encouragement. We then become more heavenly minded with a greater ability to bless others in our speech and prayers (Psalm 50:23).
  • Think of ways to build others up with words of life – We must consider and give attention to how we can stimulate others to love and good deeds. By nature we are self-focused, but God wants to make us other-focused (Hebrews 10:24).

We live in a fallen world. Instead of pulling one another down, let’s help each other to live for Christ in a greater way. We can do this in a number of ways; wise counsel and advise, prayer, spiritual exhortation, encouragement, and comfort. We need to tame our tongue so that blessing can flow to others freely and unhindered. We need to see excellence in one another and speak it out.

There is power in encouragement. Edward Steichen became one of the world’s most well-known photographers but he almost gave up the first day he started taking pictures. When he was 16-years-old, he bought a camera and took 50 photos. The only picture that turned out was one of his sister seated at the piano. This was one picture out of 50! That means there were 49 failures! His father thought it was bad, but his mother insisted that the photo of his sister was so beautiful that it made up for all the bad ones. Her words of encouragement convinced this brand-new photographer not to give up.

What was the outcome? He stayed with it for the rest of his life and became excellent as a photographer. His mother had vision for what he could do and was able to spot excellence in the midst of 49 failures.

Make it a point to encourage others through your speech and prayers this week. Whether it is through a telephone call, a prayer, writing a note or e-mail, or through verbal words, make a conscious effort to put courage and confidence into others. Prayerfully consider how you will do this. It does not come naturally for most of us. Study how you can inspire others with courage. You may be surprised, because often when we encourage others, we ourselves are encouraged (Proverbs 11:25).

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

By Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International