Posted March 20, 2019
Whenever we gather to give thanks, we should remember what scripture teaches about the activity, especially this time of year when even the ungodly claim to engage in it. Thanksgiving is essentially an act of worship performed only by faith. Although we thank each other and consider it courteous, with few exceptions thanksgiving in scripture is directed entirely to God. Giving thanks is a sacrifice of praise, a freewill offering of the heart to express our gratitude to God (Heb. 13:15; Lev. 22:29). Entering his gates with thanksgiving is simply part of our reasonable service and payment of our vows (Ps. 50:14, 100:4). And it should describe our entire life—we must be thankful in whatsoever we do in word or deed (Col. 3:15-17).
Rightly, we associate thanksgiving mainly with prayer. Thanksgiving begins with prayer (Neh. 11:17). Godly officebearers like Moses, David, and Daniel regularly gave thanks in prayer. Jesus customarily gave thanks in prayer before he broke bread to eat (John 6:23), and Paul ceased not to pray thanks (Eph. 1:16). We also are told to continue in prayer with thanksgiving (Col. 4:2; Phil. 4:6). For Christians, prayer is simply the chief part of thankfulness (LD 45). But an important, perhaps overlooked, means of thanksgiving is singing. Scripture refers to it frequently. David wrote songs and appointed Levites to give thanks morning and evening by singing with instruments (1 Chr. 16:4-7). Scripture says it is good to give thanks by singing (Ps. 92:1), and urges us to come before his presence with thanksgiving, making a joyful noise unto him with psalms, and with voices of thanksgiving to publish all his works (Ps. 95:2, 26:7).