"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise" (Psalm 100:4).
I could fill up this entire page quoting all the Psalms that tell us to approach God with thanksgiving and praise. The psalmists never got tired of saying it. And you will find the same thing in the New Testament (Philippians 4:6).
If you were to ask me what the biggest problem with Christians is, it's that we don't do what we say. To put it another way, we know a lot more stuff than we do.
But I wish to report a happy thing I discovered on this matter today: I was doing my usual morning prayer walk but not getting traction. I have been praying for the same long list of missionaries daily, and my children, my parents, my mentor, and the sick people I know, and other miscellaneous things.
Then I decided, "Hang it. I'm going to change tack today and just pray nothing but thank yous. Lord, thank you for this, and thank you for that."
So I commenced to thank. I entered His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (since, thanking and praying are, after all, Siamese twins).
I started with the most obvious causes for thanks, and what I found was that one thanks just led to another, as thanking took on its own momentum and a mind of its own. By the time I had got back to the car (I park inside the gates of a cemetery), I realized I had prayed for almost everyone on my usual list unawares-the missionaries, the kids, my parents, etc.-but coming at it from a different angle.
And it was joyful. There is something joyful about prayers of thanksgiving. Call it endorphins if you want but I think it is a spiritual dimension that's released. I have a friend who's a doctor, and she says that thankful people don't need doctors as much.