You may easily overlook the challenge of the phrase “sacrifice of thanksgiving” or “sacrifice of praise”. Easy enough, right?
“Oh you don’t want burnt offerings – sweet! It is easy to not do that for you. What do you want? Oh you just want me to thank and praise you? Wonderful! — Thanks God! You’re great God!” So easy-peasy.
Well… then again… maybe not so much…
When I was in my darkest time longing to become pregnant and month after month being disappointed it was hard to thank God and praise God.
I was constantly in cycles of longing, hoping, and being disappointing. And it was difficult to add “Thank you God. I praise you God.” into my prayers. I had to force it. In other words – it was a sacrifice. (And, yes, often times my thanks and praise were as basic as those two sentences.)
In those times I had the “Ah-Ha!” moment of what God asks of us when He calls us to give Him a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” and a “sacrifice of praise”. To be close to despair, to wonder why God wasn’t seeming to answer my prayers, to plead in prayer and then remember I am called to thank and praise Him regardless was a great challenge.
I wasn’t angry at God, but I was perhaps confused why I couldn’t get what I wanted… And in those times it would have been so much easier to make a sacrifice to God of some thing rather than myself. “Burnt offering? Sign me up! I’ll burn whatever you want me to!”. But that is not what God wants of us/me — He wants our hearts. He wants our trust. He wants us, fully and completely. He wants us to place Him first rather than place our desires first.
So how beautiful it is to be called to give that sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise so that we remember that He is number one and we are a distant second. It is hard. It is really, really hard. But it is beautiful.
There were times when I just spoke the words and didn’t really feel them. But I did speak them (yes I spoke them out loud even if the rest of my praying was an inner monologue) and it did cause me to pause my focus on my self-desires and self-pity and re-orient myself to Him.
“Thank you God. I bless you God.”
I think God appreciates us saying it even if we don’t feel it as we are speaking the words — and believe me many times it was strained and not heartfelt; it was so forced it was shameful. (And it was often tacked on to the end of my long-winded prayers and spoken thru tears (some of which were cried due to knowing how pitiful my thanks and praise was.) But guess what? I’m pretty sure He takes those few seconds of our sacrifice and knows that they truly were a sacrifice to even speak the words, and He appreciates that we have made the sacrifice that He has asked of us. (It may seem small –just two sentences– but trust me they were big sacrifices.)
So the next time you find yourself in prayer and longing don’t forget to offer God a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” and a “sacrifice of praise”. Even if it is the most forced words you speak, speak them. It may be a hard sacrifice to make, but make it. Because this is the sacrifice that God has asked of us. Give Him the sacrifice He wants of you.
“Thank you God. I bless you God. I praise you God. You are merciful and loving O God. God, you are great. God, thank you for what I have. God, thank you for this opportunity to pray to you. God, thank you for listening to my prayers. God you are so loving. God you are forgiving. Thank you God for your love. Thank you God for your forgiveness. Here is my heart O God. Thank you for accepting it. Thank you for this life. Thank you God! I praise you God! I bless you God -though you don’t need my poor blessings, thank you for allowing me to offer it and thank you for accepting it. Thank you God!”
I will offer a sacrifice of praise and call on the name of the LORD. -Psalm 116:17
Offer praise as your sacrifice to God; fulfill your vows to the Most High. Then call on me on the day of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.” -Psalm 50:14-15
Through him [then] let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind. -Hebrews 13:15-16
A psalm of David. LORD, I call to you; hasten to me; listen to my plea when I call. Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening offering. -Psalm 141:1-2
Lord, you will open my lips; and my mouth will proclaim your praise. For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn. -Psalm 51:17-19