Have you ever faced overwhelming odds? Times when the barrage of problems against you seems insurmountable? Maybe you have recently faced such times—and perhaps you are dealing with that type of situation right now. What is the key to success and victory when the enemies aligned against us seem too great to overcome? It may seem unlikely, but here is one answer: giving thanks. Let’s explore this theme together as we look at a biblical story from 2 Chronicles 20, an excerpt from Derek Prince’s teaching, and some encouraging thoughts that all affirm one surprising truth: thanksgiving is a key to your victory.
Against Overwhelming Opposition
Some passages from the Bible are brimming with inspiration and encouragement. One which has helped me in facing intense battles has been the account in 2 Chronicles 20 of Israel facing the united threat of armies from three nations. Here are a few of the inspiring elements in the victory God provided for Israel:
King Jehoshaphat’s focus on the Lord: “For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (v. 12, NAS). (Have you ever felt that way?)
Prophetic encouragement: “Do not fear or be dismayed…for the battle is not yours but God’s” (v. 15, NAS); “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf…for the LORD is with you” (v. 17, NAS); “Put your trust in the LORD your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed” (v. 20, NAS).
A New Insight
These truths and others like them provide wonderful incentives for us to trust in the Lord at challenging times. Recently, however, I saw another great insight as I was studying this passage. Many preachers have taught about the unusual battle strategy Israel employed in this predicament. The plan called for the worshipers and praisers to go out first—in front of the rest of the army. Normally, battle plans start with artillery fire, followed by an infantry attack. (Could this actually be what our worship and praise accomplish in the heavenly realm?) As I was considering this unorthodox battle strategy, a thought came to me as I looked at the lyrics of their song: “Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (v. 21b, NAS). “Give thanks.” The powerful impact of those first two words paved the way for the victory that followed. This exact phrase appears widely throughout the Old Testament, especially in the psalms. In one sense, it was a very familiar proclamation. But think of it! They could have chosen any other lyrics about God’s might, or His arm bared before the nations, or His power to destroy any who would dare oppose Him. Such declarations would have thrown fear into any enemy.
Talking to Ourselves
Why didn’t they use such language? The reason is simple. They weren’t shouting at the enemy—they were speaking to themselves. We see the same principle at a critical moment in David’s life: “But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6b). His greatest strength in this stressful moment was to remember the many times God had rescued him—probably thanking God all the while for His enduring faithfulness. Like David, the Israelites and Jehoshaphat were reminding themselves of God’s faithful care. “His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Revelation 12:11 tells us we defeat the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. What might that testimony sound like? “Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” What about all those enemies threatening you right now? Maybe the first step you and I ought to take in our battle against them would be a song that begins, “I give thanks to You, O Lord! Your steadfast love and mercy toward me endure forever.” Thanksgiving is our song for every battle. It is a key to our victory!
In a recent conversation with Alex and Faye, directors of DPM–Australia, they shared what the Aussie staff regularly proclaims about the power of thanksgiving. Their declaration is taken directly from a teaching by Derek Prince called Thanksgiving.
Do you see the tremendous potential of giving thanks to release God’s miracle-working power in our lives? Not merely does giving thanks release the miracle-working power of God—but after God’s miracle-working power has been set in operation in our lives, giving thanks sets the seal on the blessings we’ve already received. It makes them permanent.
A beautiful example of this principle is in the story of the ten lepers who met Jesus in Luke 17, verses 12–19….It’s important to note the different words that are used in the various phases of that story. All ten lepers were cleansed. All were healed physically. But something completely extra—and the most important thing of all—happened to the one man who returned to give Him thanks. Jesus said to him in verse 19: “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.” That’s the English translation. But the word translated in Greek is sozo, which is the standard Greek word for “to save.” The word sozo nearly always indicates something more than merely physical or temporary provision of God. It’s the all-inclusive word for salvation. So you see, there was an important difference between the nine who were healed physically and the tenth who came back to give God thanks. He was not merely healed physically, but he was saved. His soul was saved. He was brought into a right eternal relationship with God. The nine lepers received a blessing that was partial and temporary. The tenth received a blessing that was total and permanent. What made the difference? It was giving thanks that made the difference. The same is true in our lives. Giving thanks for blessings already received sets the seal of permanence upon them.
A Step of Thanksgiving
The lasting transformation Derek refers to is a true picture of victory in our lives. Are you longing to experience enduring solutions? Maybe the first step involves giving thanks. With that in mind, let’s join together in the following prayer:
Lord, I want to commit myself fully to this principle of giving thanks in all situations. I thank You for the many times in the past when You have rescued me, helped me, pulled my feet out of the snare, and cleaned me up after I have fallen flat on my face. With all my heart, I say, “I give thanks to You—for Your lovingkindness to me is everlasting.” I have tasted it, and I know You are generous and caring.
Now, Lord, in regard to the present situations and enemies facing me, although I don’t know what to do, my eyes are fixed on You. I am shifting into another gear. You know all about the challenges I face, so I thank You in advance for dealing with them by Your great power. As I move forward, this is my battle cry: “I give thanks to You, Lord, for Your lovingkindness is everlasting.” I proclaim what Derek pointed out: “Not merely does giving thanks release Your miracle-working power—but after Your power has been set in operation, giving thanks sets the seal on the blessings I’ve already received. It makes them permanent.” Thank You for the victory You are now providing for me. I offer my thanksgiving as my victory song to You, O Lord. Amen.
Sealing the Deal
Sometimes the Lord puts a foundation stone in place for us to build upon for the rest of our lives. The practice of thanksgiving is one of those bedrocks—and you and I have just secured it with our prayer. As we continue in this powerful practice of giving thanks, we can be assured that the Lord will set the seal on the blessings we have received from Him. That’s a wonderful thought, isn’t it? We consider it such an honor to join with you in every step you take to grow closer to Jesus. Our partnership together—especially the help you provide through your prayers and generous financial participation—is a great blessing to us. Thank you for sharing with us, walking with us, and standing with us in the work of Derek Prince Ministries.
This letter comes to you during one of our favorite seasons of the year: the Thanksgiving holiday. Actually, it is a perfect time to renew our commitment to this foundational principle of giving thanks. As we close this letter, let’s remind ourselves once more of Derek’s teaching point which is consistently proclaimed by our colleagues in the DPM–Australia office: “Not merely does giving thanks release the miracle-working power of God—but after God’s miracle-working power has been set in operation in our lives, giving thanks sets the seal on the blessings we’ve already received. It makes them permanent.”
The prayer we voiced together serves to embed this vital principle in the foundation of our relationship with Jesus. As we go forward, our regular practice of giving thanks becomes the enduring force which produces lasting fruit and ongoing triumph through Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving: key to victory, indeed!