The other day, my wife shared with me a very interesting story. My wife had a friend and her son over. At some point during their time, my youngest son sits on the stairs and says, “Pray”. He folds his hands, bows his head and says, “Thanks. Amen”.
Although we were able to have a giggle about this, there were some truths out of his short prayer. Many times, we enter into prayer with “Lord, please supply our needs” or “Lord, please heal those we love.” Many times in the Psalms, David pours his heart out to God and asks God to supply a need or desire. Job cries out to God asking Him “Why is this happening to me?” Paul even asks God to “remove this thorn”. However, we rarely hear ourselves cry out to God in thanks.
Many might say they thank God every day, but do we really thank God and what do we thank God for? When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he writes:
“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thess. 5:18
Do we really give thanks in everything. Notice Paul never said, “For everything”. Rather he said, “In everything.” This proclamation for “in everything…” is one that is not commonly spoken of today. We thank God for the positive things in life, our family, our jobs, our children. However, do we also give thanks when we are sick, in the hospital or the loss of someone close to us? Do we give thanks for those things that hurt us? Do we give thanks for our tribulations and pain? Even I would have to admit that most times, I do not thank God for the bad times.
Paul makes this distinction because when we thank God for everything, we tend to thank Him for individual items. Our focus is not Him but rather the circumstance we are experiencing or the thing we desire. When we change that distinction to “in everything”, we re-focus our thoughts toward God. No longer is the circumstance or item or person the focus, but rather God is in focus.
When we focus ourselves on the circumstance, our thankfilled attitude changes based on our feelings toward the circumstance. When we focus ourselves on God, our thankfilled spirit will pour out and affect others in a positive way. Focusing on God enables us to have that relationship with Him that He so desires for us. Focusing on God allows us to realize that our will is meaningless without His guideance. Focusing on God allows us to do His work, regardless of outcome.
However, the other portion of my son’s short prayer was even more interesting. The word Amen means, “Truth or certainty”. It is not just a word we say, but when we say this, we let God and others know that whatever they said, we are in full agreement of because it is truth and certain. This means that if we say Amen when someone says, “Jesus is coming back”, we are pubilcly admitting we are in full agreement with this. On the flip side, when we hear someone say, “Just name it and claim it” and say amen, we let everyone know that we are in full agreement with that, even if it is a misguided concept based on us rather than God.
There is nothing mystical about the words “thanks” and “amen” but both are very important in our walk with God. If we approach God without thanking Him in everything, we do our relationship with him a disservice. If we say Amen without realizing why, we stunt our relationship with Him.
God does not desire sacrifice but us. God does not desire committment to the cause, but rather dedication and devotion to Him. God does not desire robots who will obey without question or understanding, but rather desires for us to use the brains He provided to us. In a nut shell, God desires US. He desires a relationship with us. He desires for us to call on Him and focus on Him and what He desires.
In Revelation, Jesus said that some will say, “Lord, Lord, I did this or that in your name” and He will say, “Depart from me you evildoer, I never knew you.” It will be a very frightening moment for those who hear that. They will have lived their lives, doing things for God rather than being with God. We can do a whole lot and never have that relationship with God. However, we cannot be in a relationship with God and not do something for Him. It is the relationship first, then the act.
If I did things for my wife, but never spent time with her, talking with her, listening to her, holding her hand, she would never know my love for her. Those actions would be self fullfilling not others fulfilling. God has made us to have a relationship with Him. He has created us for relationships. He has given us His Son to provide the only way into that relationship.
My son may not have really understood what he said by saying, “Thanks. Amen: but I was taught a very valuable lesson. My relationship with God needs to have thankfulness in all situations and my amens need to be carefully understood before I say it. I am glad that God still teaches through the mouths of babes.
God bless and encourage someone today.