Category Archives: Pray with Authority

30 Days of Thankful: Day 30

I once saw an old Tarzan movie in which the famed ape man was peering at a droplet of water through a microscope. The instrument had been brought to Africa by Jane’s father, Professor Porter. Tarzan was quite shaken to see that the water he drank daily was teeming with all kinds of organisms, invisible to the naked eye.

Similarly, the Bible reveals that our spiritual atmosphere is filled with unseen enemies—the real source of our spiritual battles. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).

I wonder how we’d react if we could catch a glimpse into the invisible heavenly places. Like Tarzan, I imagine we’d be shocked by the creatures we saw. The Bible doesn’t spend a lot of time describing this spiritual realm. It does, however, give us instructions on how to do battle. We’re given a detailed list of spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:10-20.  James 4:2 encourages us to “submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee.”

But one of the most powerful weapons against the powers of darkness is the weapon of praise. Giving thanks helps us fight our spiritual foes—something worth emphasizing again as we bring our 30 Days of Thankful to a close.

The New Testament is filled with examples of the power of thanksgiving. We see Paul and Silas singing and praising God in a Philippian jail—their chains fell off, the jailer accepted Jesus, and his whole family became believers.

The Old Testament, too, tells stories of the power of praise:  “After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: ‘Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!’ At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves” (2 Chronicles 20:21-22).

Perhaps you’re facing a spiritual battle today. You’ve resisted, and prayed, and fought the good fight. But you’re weary. This may be your strategic moment to simply thank God and praise Him for His goodness. Let Him fight this battle for you. Rest in His power—even if you don’t fully understand how He works.  Just remember: the devil and his minions hate praise. So if you can stand firm and continue to thank God, I believe you will notice that the devil flees. After all, he is allergic to praise.

30 Days of Thankful: Day 29

Thanksgiving. Its power to transform any situation is something of a mystery. When someone gives thanks in the Bible, you often find a miracle close by. Jesus gives thanks before He breaks the five loaves and two fish to feed the five thousand. He lifts his eyes to heaven before he calls the four-day-dead Lazarus to come forth from his tomb.

Yesterday, I found myself waking up, again wrestling for hope. It’s been a hard week since my younger sister’s illness and then serious head injury after a fall resulted in emergency surgery and an uncertain future. The day before, she had lost all movement, all cognition.

On the way to the hospital for another day of waiting, I didn’t feel like it, but I went back to prayer and thanksgiving 101: Philippians 4:6-7:

  • Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need,
  • and thank him for all he has done.
  • Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
  • His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I did what I know to be true—though I didn’t “feel” like it. As a former atheist, I seem to always be very pragmatic about taking God at His word.   And I know that giving thanks in all circumstances is His will. I also know He is not offended if I watch and wait to see how His word comes true.

And so I gave thanks for what He had done, and what He would do in this ongoing trial. And I watched and waited for tiny signs of hope. I truly believe that giving thanks is an act of faith. I told God I would be on the lookout for small “seeds” of His work, diligent to thank him for each ray of hope.

I pulled into the usually jam packed hospital lot and a space opened right next to the door. Walking in, the security guard at the door took special interest in greeting me unusually warmly. I walked into my sister’s room. The MRI had revealed no stroke as feared the night before.

A doctor came by and administered a new medicine. And for a few seconds, there were signs of life, and a brief recognition on my sister’s part. He said this was a good sign. A glimmer of hope.

I’m not sure why, but the day was altogether different. I sensed little blessings for which to be thankful. We’re not out of the woods yet, by any means. And we have a long road ahead.

Each day, I learn anew that it’s healing and strengthening to give thanks while I wait, and especially to praise God for the little seeds that are part of what I trust will be a larger harvest.

Giving thanks somehow fuels my faith, which then gives hope. I can’t explain why it gives peace. But God knows what He is doing, and His word tells me not to worry, to pray, and to give thanks. His peace that passes understanding does just that—it bypasses my intellect. I don’t know how airplanes fly but I continue to travel. I don’t know why giving thanks works, but I am so grateful for the peace that it gives my heart.


30 Days of Thankful: Day 21

Gratitude doesn’t come naturally. Another observation during 30 Days of Thankful. We have to teach our children to be thankful, so it makes sense that God teaches it to us. In the Old Testament, He even created rituals and celebrations to teach His people how to give thanks.

Giving thanks is not so much for God’s benefit, though I am sure it warms His heart as it does any good parent when their children show gratitude. He doesn’t need our thankfulness to be God. But God knows that thankful people are better people. They are also happier and healthier.

We’ve talked about the emotional and physical blessings that come when we’re thankful. But there’s more: When you grasp the concept of giving thanks to God, you’re beginning to grasp something much more powerful—His grace. I hope you’ll see the connection here.

Our word “grateful” comes from an old English word, “grate” which means “thanks.” The word grateful is also loosely related to the word grace.

But the Bible connection between grace and thankfulness is much stronger.  Grace is defined as the “gift or blessing brought to mankind by Jesus Christ, favor, gratitude, thanks, a favor, kindness.” The Greek word commonly translate as “grace” is charis.

Charis is also one of several words in the New Testament translated as “thank.” Here are a couple of examples where charis conveys thankfulness:

“I thank [charis] God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1:3 NIV).

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude [charis] in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16 NIV).

Charis doesn’t just communicate thankfulness.  Charis–or grace–is the very substance of our salvation. Ephesians 2:8 says it strongly: “For it is by grace [charis] you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…(Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

How exciting to think that as we practice gratitude, we also breathe new life into our understanding of God’s amazing grace!

So let’s continue to be thankful. And remember, it requires something of a fight for us to walk in God’s grace in this broken, and sometimes hostile, world. As Peter reminded a church that was being heavily persecuted: ‘This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it (1 Peter 5:12 NIV).












30 Days of Thankful: Day 19

Giving thanks changes everything. When we find someone giving thanks in the Bible, there’s usually a miracle close by. The feeding of thousands, the healing of the leper, a changed heart. That’s not to say that giving thanks causes miracles—but they’re definitely related.

This is Day 19 of our 30 Days of Thankful. We’ve been talking about giving thanks to God for our blessings. Becoming more aware of His many benefits, large and small.

But what about the hard places? Can we thank God when we’re going through trials? During times of suffering and pain? The Bible tells us to do just that. And this is where the real stretch comes.

The book of James takes it a step further.  He encourages us to “consider it pure joy” when we face those hard times when our faith is tested, promising that the testing or our faith “produces perseverance.”   “Perseverance,” he promises, will make us “mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).   A different translation tells us to “be very happy” when trials come our way (GW).   Seriously?

To help us understand the connection between giving thanks and joy, let’s take another look at the following verses:

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).

Rejoice. There’s that pesky word again. Rejoice, or chairo, is the verb form of the word we just saw translated as “joy’ in James 1:2. We’re instructed here to “give thanks in all circumstances.” All circumstances—not just the good ones. Are you tracking with me?

The word translated as “thanks” in this verse is Eucharisteo. It comes from eu, which means “good or well,” and chairo, or “rejoice.”  So the word,  thanks, actually comes from the word for rejoice.

If this makes you a little dizzy, it should. But when you stop to think about it, giving thanks is an expression of joy. When we give thanks in hard places, we are saying to God that we trust Him so much that we can be joyful, even when going through trials.

Why? Because this is the time when our faith really grows. We mature. So we’ll be lacking in nothing. Not missing out on one single blessing God has for us. And when you think about it, that’s reason enough to give thanks….and to rejoice!







30 Days of Thankful: Day 17

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

I don’t know about you but I am beginning to notice some changes during our 30 Days of Thankful. The changes aren’t huge ones—more like a shift in the atmosphere. But they’re real nonetheless.

For example, yesterday I noticed a softening in a very difficult extended family member’s attitude. And a friend who I’ve been reaching out to for years is becoming more tender to the gospel. Just the other day, I experienced an unexplainable feeling of hope in a long-standing problem that had begun to feel hopeless. I wonder if you’ve noticed some changes, too?

As I become more thankful, I’m more aware of God’s blessings all around me.  And no wonder, since the words in the New Testament for thank and bless are practically the same. Both can be used to translate the Greek word eulogeo, which means “to speak well of or to give praise.”  More thanksgiving naturally leads to a greater sensitivity to my blessings.

But the vagueness of praying for God to “bless” my food, my friends, or my family was a problem until I learned a simple tip from our friend John DeVries, founder of Mission India.

In his wonderful book, Why Pray?  DeVries recommends praying for blessings by focusing on five areas which correspond with the letters for B-L-E-S-S:

B – Body – For physical health, safety, strength

L – Labors – For the success and prospering of their work

E – Emotions – For emotional health, peace and joy to replace fear and anxiety

S – Social life – For social relationships, family to have love and unity

S – Spiritual life – For each to know Jesus personally and grow in their spiritual lives

I set my cell phone each day to remind me to pray for several special people. And I pray the BLESS prayer when someone comes to mind and I’m not sure how to specifically pray for them.  Why not take a minute right now to B-L-E-S-S a friend, a family member, a government leader, or even the ruler of a nation.  And while you’re at it, be thankful in advance for what God will do in response to your prayer.