It is written in Psalm 100:4-5,  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

From time to time we need to give ourselves a checkup; in our prayer time, are we indeed entering His gates with thanksgiving?  Or are we consuming our prayer time with “Lord, give me _______”?  Are we praising Him with all our might, as King David did?  Are we blessing (speaking well of) His name?  Or is our prayer time about the big three “Me, Myself, and I”?

We already know by verse 5 that the LORD is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generation.  Therefore we know everything we receive from Him is good.  Is it always what we want?  Even when the LORD needs to chastise us, and of course we don’t like that, it is always for our good.  But which good; for the desires of what WE want, or for the purpose of bringing us to salvation?  God’s plan is for all men to be saved, but in order for that to happen, He must to some extent have our cooperation.  Yes, God is Almighty, and of course He could merely say the Word and we would be saved whether we wanted to be or not.  But when He created mankind, He also created them with “free will”.  Ah, there’s the problem.

Some choose to enter into His gates with thanksgiving, but it’s usually only on Thanksgiving, and reluctantly at that. And after stuffing themselves with Thanksgiving turkey, they will go take a nap and that’s the end of their thanksgiving unto God until next Thanksgiving. Some never even go that far, as they are outside the family of God, and have no intention of changing their status.  Sad, isn’t it?  But to some extent they are the way THEY are because of failure on the men and women of God to share the Good News of the Gospel with them.

That’s where OUR free will comes in, speaking about men and women of God.  We have been entrusted with the most precious gift ever given unto mankind, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Why WOULDN’T we be eager to share the Gospel with the lost and unsaved?  Perhaps it’s because we don’t spend enough time ourselves entering His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  You see, our spiritual welfare depends a lot on how much we are willing to invest in our relationship with the LORD.  We have the freedom to “ask, seek and knock” for whatsoever we want to.  Whether the LORD chooses to give us our petitions is entirely up to whether He thinks it’s what we truly NEED or not.

Many have asked for a new car or a new house or more money for example.  I get many prayer requests from people who ask for those things. And the LORD has no problem with people having things.  But He DOES have a  problem with things having people.  Many people just can never be satisfied, no matter how many new cars our houses they have.  They are looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places, looking for material riches, looking for social fame, when all the time their needs are really simple: they need the LORD!

Until we start taking the time to offer up our sincere thanksgiving for all the blessings the LORD has already given us, we are for the most part missing out on the JOY of the LORD.  When we exuberantly praise the LORD, He in turn floods our heart with His love, and that causes two things: 1, We know He will meet every need we have, no matter how great.  And 2, He is for us and not against us.  He will never leave or forsake us, even in times that we cannot “feel His presence”, He is still there watching over us.

It is written in John 15: 1-12,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

10  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

These are very encouraging words to us, to “ABIDE” in Him, not just have a “drive-through” relationship where we throw our wants to God in prayer and we’re gone to go about our daily business.  Because of the very nature of God, our thanksgiving and praise to Him should be a natural part, actually, the MOST IMPORTANT PART of our daily routine.

How can you hope to have a good day if it isn’t started with thanksgiving and praise for God as soon as you open your eyes?  So I’d like to encourage you today to step up the THANKSGIVING and PRAISE to the LORD.  And don’t wait for the day of Thanksgiving to do it.  Just because the turkey has nothing to be thankful for doesn’t mean YOU don’t.  Maybe making a list of God’s blessings to you would be a good place to start.  Surely you can think of something the LORD has done for you this week.  Write them down, and add to the list as you think of them.  It won’t be long until you’re really excited about all the LORD has done for you and praise will become more and more a part of your life.  In the process you may well find your “gimme, gimme” prayer list will grow smaller, and your prayer time will become more joyful!  And that will make both you AND the LORD happy!