I wouldn’t call myself Betty Crocker, but I’d like to think I can get by. So, here I was baking a cake for my friend’s surprise birthday party. The oven was pre-heated, and the kitchen was covered with all the ingredients needed to make this cake a masterpiece, (let’s just say I’m not the most organized cook).
I slipped the cake into the oven with a sense of accomplishment, set the timer, and waited with anticipation to see the end result. Twenty minutes passed, thirty, thirty-five, and every time I peered into the little oven window, my cake was still flat and sad looking.
I thought, “it must just need more time, and then it will rise to perfection.” Well, that didn’t happen. After forty-five minutes in the oven I pulled out my deflated cake, which basically represented my deflated hopes and dreams, and sat down dumbfounded at what I possibly could have done wrong.
I scoured over the recipe and ingredient list. Flour–check. Sugar–check. Salt–check. Baking Powder—….— oh no! I made the cardinal mistake! I had everything else to successfully make the cake but without that one ingredient it was a total wash.
This memory came to my mind on the heels of a recent and deep work of God in my heart regarding prayer.
Oftentimes, when I would bring God that one thing that I longed for Him to answer, I would walk away from prayer looking like my cake–deflated and sad.
Over the years I seriously had taken every possible approach with God in prayer. I have bargained, pleaded, fasted, become complacent, defeated, stopped praying,–you name it, I’ve tried it.
What was I missing?
Then one Sunday not too long ago, my Pastor said this simple statement: “Why don’t you try changing the way you pray for 21 days. Instead of asking God for that thing, thank Him for it.”
This statement resonated deep in my heart, and I decided to take on the challenge. Every time I prayed, I didn’t ask, I thanked. With each prayer of thanksgiving, my heart, hopes, expectations, and peace rose to the surface of my being. It was literally the one approach in prayer I had never tried.
But it all makes so much sense in the light of this very familiar verse:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6)
I realized that over the years, I skipped right over the “with thanksgiving” part, and neglected to realize that it was the key ingredient to the promise held in this verse. PEACE was the provision of a prayer offered WITH THANKSGIVING.
My cake was like my prayers–lacking the one ingredient that would not only bring peace and renewed faith to the surface but get the attention of heaven.
“Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not yet seen.” (Heb 11:1)
When I thank God for what I do not yet physically possess I am getting in line with God’s estimation of faith. The things I hope for and don’t yet see, in heaven’s eyes, are real and waiting to be given to us.
When I thank God for the things I am waiting to “receive” I am making a declaration to my heart, the atmosphere, and the Lord, that I am confident in His heart toward me.
Jesus displayed this approach with His Father all the time. Consider the time when Jesus came to Lazarus’ tomb. What did He say? How did He pray?
“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.” (John 11:41-44)
Jesus knew the secret to a prayer offered in thanksgiving. It is not only effectual as it relates to our prayers coming to fruition, but it is the necessary ingredient to experience God’s peace wrapping it’s arms around our hearts and minds as we confidently wait for Him.
Now I know that what baking powder is to cake, thanksgiving is to prayer. Who knew one small ingredient could make such a difference?