When we are in distress and life is full of problems, we can gain comfort from remembering who God is and giving him praise and thanks at the same time as we cry out to him.
Often, we are more likely to divide our prayers into requests and praises. I’m sure you’ve been asked if you have a prayer request or a praise to report. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this — it’s all good. But, what’s got me thinking is that the Bible encourages us to mingle our petitions and praises together in the same breath, so to speak.
Our requests and praises are to come out of our mouths at the same time.
Many of the Psalms are full of petitions, with the Psalmist expressing the depth of his despair. But, it’s noticeable that the writer always includes words of praise too. See Psalm 22:24-25, Psalm 86:6-8 for example.
We also have the model of the Lord’s prayer, given to us by Jesus, in Matthew 6:9-13. It begins with praise to God — your name be honored — before it moves to give us today…
Then the apostle Paul in his many letters to the churches includes thanksgiving in his prayers along with requests, as in Colossians: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. Colossians 1:3.
And a favorite example of mine, which I find astonishing considering the circumstances, is Paul and Silas singing hymns to God after being beaten and put in prison — I’m sure they were praying, too (Acts 16:19-25). If Paul praised God in that situation, then I should be able to praise God in all my circumstances as they are nothing as bad.
In this context, Paul’s instruction in Philippians 4:6 is much more meaningful: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
All of these biblical examples have me wondering how much I balance bringing my worries to God with bringing my gratitude, too.
We have constant worries, whether it’s finances and employment, children, health issues of our own or others, or even crises that come out of nowhere.
Just this morning I woke up concerned about my daughter and the problems she has with her apartment. And, with the ongoing pandemic limiting our ability to see those we love whether they live near us or in a different country, I’m wondering when I will next see my sons who are living in the UK.
So, how do we give praise and thanksgiving to God, and find the comfort we need, in the middle of our problems? Here are some truths to think on and some practical suggestions to use in your prayers:
Comfort in financial problems
Think about the crowds of ordinary people — whole families, it seems, with their children in tow — who followed Jesus across Galilee. Jesus noticed they faithfully stayed with him, even though they were hungry and tired. He didn’t send them away without feeding them. In his compassion, he sat them down and multiplied the little food they did have so everyone was fully satisfied (Matthew 15:29-37).
In the same way, God notices your commitment to him. He cares when you don’t have enough to meet your needs. As you ask God to provide, thank him for his compassion. Tell your heavenly Father you are trusting for the miracle of his provision.
Comfort when worried about children
Think about the parents who brought their children, on their own initiative and certainly without any encouragement from Jesus’ disciples, to Jesus. Perhaps one parent stepped forward and others followed until a long line stretched across the Galilean hillside. Jesus warmly welcomed these parents and their children.
Imagine yourself joining the line with your child, even an adult child, and when it’s your turn to stand before Jesus, thank him for his willingness to bless your child.
Comfort in health issues
Many people who came to Jesus — those with diseases, suffering severe pain, unable to walk, speak or hear. From the friends of the paralyzed man, to the woman with bleeding, and to the woman with a demon-possessed daughter, Jesus commended them on their faith.
Praise God because he cares about the sickness and disabilities we suffer. We may not see physical healings today in the same way as Jesus’ time on earth but, more importantly, Jesus always rewards faith in him. Thank God for spiritual life that comes through faith in Jesus, and for a future with him even though our physical bodies are fading.
Comfort in unexpected crises
Think about the disciples, seasoned fishermen among them, who became overwhelmed with fear when a sudden storm caught them in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. Large waves crashed over the boat, water swirled around their knees as the boat lurched from side to side. Jesus stilled the waves and the boat leveled.
Give thanks to God that he is with you in the middle of your storms and he can bring calm and peace.
What prayer requests do you have today? Feel free to share them below in the comments. It’s comforting to know others are praying for you. But, before you do, take a moment to pause and share a praise too — no matter how small. Or as you pray today and ask God to meet your needs, give thanks to him too.