Thankfulness is an important part of prayer. God says in Psalm 50:23:
“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me,
and he prepares the way
so that I may show him the salvation of God.”
Under the Old Testament sacrificial system, thank offerings were animals and various breads given above and beyond the required ones for sin, harvest firstfruits, and different ceremonies (Leviticus 7:11–18). The thank offering was not required under any certain circumstances and was classified as a type of fellowship, or peace, offering of the person already right with God.
According to Psalm 50, a sacrifice of thanks paves the way for God to reveal His work in our lives. Maybe that’s because thanks can change the way we see.
Christians today don’t offer breads and animals on the altar, but that doesn’t mean God is no longer interested in our freewill sacrifices of thanks. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
“All circumstances” means the tough ones, too. And if you’ve ever actually given thanks for circumstances you’d rather not experience, you know the act of giving thanks can truly be a sacrifice.
I’m not experiencing any great trials right now, but there are some normal things of life I’d rather not be experiencing. But if I believe God can use everything for my good, what reason do I have not to thank Him?
Maybe God will open my eyes to see how He’s working in my life through these daily struggles. (Read “On Trials and Suffering” by Danika Cooley to see how God did this for two Christian sisters in a concentration camp. Much graver circumstances than mine.) But even if I don’t receive any great revelation, a sacrifice of thanks honors God.