Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100)
Thanksgiving above all involves communication with God. This is why the psalmist specifies that our thanksgiving is to be “to the Lord”, “into his presence”, within “his gates” and “his courts”, and expressed “to him.” Thanksgiving only takes place when we are talking to God.
Thanksgiving is only happening when prayer is happening.
We can try to develop a contented heart, we can express to others how grateful we feel — but it is not thanksgiving until we are talking to God and expressing our appreciation to him directly. Contentedness is not thanksgiving. Expressing a general sense of “being blessed” is not thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is you telling God, “Thank you!” Therefore, thanksgiving is only happening when prayer is happening.
However, it is also true that there is a public aspect to giving thanks. This is why gratitude is in the Bible constantly connected to the public proclamation of God’s glory. Here the psalmist exhorts “all the earth” to make a joyful noise, to serve the Lord, to know the Lord as God, and to be thankful to him. Even while we are talking to God, there is also an aspect of thanksgiving that is public worship and proclamation as well.
True thanksgiving overflows in public, prayerful proclamation of the goodness and glory of God.
So thanksgiving is first and foremost prayer. Yet it is not biblical thanksgiving if it remains only and always private. True thanksgiving overflows in public, prayerful proclamation of the goodness and glory of God.
Thanksgiving is private, grateful prayer gone public!
Consider this public, proclamatory element of biblical thanksgiving this Thanksgiving season. Ask yourself, as an individual or as a family, “In what way can we not only express our gratitude to God for his goodness to us in Jesus Christ, but also express how good God is publicly, out loud, outside the walls of our home and church?”
The Lord is always good, the psalmist reminds us, and so the Lord is always worthy of our personal gratitude and our public proclamation.