“Thanks in advance…” Several emails or letters close with that phrase, whether it’s thanking someone in advance for their cooperation with a public notice or for a service they are going to provide in the future. When we thank someone in advance for their cooperation/understanding/service, we are basically saying “I know you are going to come through on this, and I appreciate it so much.” We are verbalizing our faith in their compliance before actually seeing their compliance! If we have this much faith in humanity, why is our “thanks in advance” to God often lacking?

Maybe you do make a regular habit of thanking God before He has even provided. Maybe I am in the minority, but the other day I realized that my thanks to God is often expressed for what He has already done, not for what He has yet to do. Rick Warren wrote a great devotional about thanking God in advance, and in it He says

  If you thank God after the fact, that’s gratitude. If you thank God before it happens, that’s faith. – Rick Warren

Hmm…I guess I have more gratitude than faith. Ouch.

In the Bible, we find a great example of thanking God in advance. King Jehoshaphat and the rest of his kingdom of Judah were facing battle against a vast army from Edom. God had already spoken through the prophet Jahaziel, promising that God would be with the people of Judah and give them victory. Even though the battle still loomed ahead of them, the king and his people had hope because they had already been told the outcome; and they believed that God would deliver on His promise. So before the combat even took place, the people began to praise:

After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the LORD and praising Him in His holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the LORD; His faithful love endures forever!” (2 Chronicles 20:21)

Jehoshaphat and the people praised God before the battle was actually, physically won. They thanked God in advance for what they knew He was going to do. We may not get a direct message from God telling us exactly what the outcome will be in any given circumstance, but we know that ultimately our God has won the victory over sin and death; and that is reason enough to thank Him in advance in ANY situation.

And after we thank Him, then we need to keep on keepin’ on and hangin’ on! Don’t expect God to answer your prayer immediately. And don’t thank Him in advance in an attempt to butter Him up to get what you want. God will not be manipulated. More often than not, we will find ourselves thanking Him in advance as we pray for the same thing over and over and over again.  But all that waiting doesn’t mean that God isn’t hearing or isn’t working.

This vision is for a future time. It describes the end; and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. (Habakkuk 2:3)

This message from God to the prophet Habakkuk was referencing the impending judgment of the Babylonians, the arch enemies of God’s people. The judgment on Judah for their moral rot would be soon (586 B.C.), but the punishment that Habakkuk predicted for Babylon wouldn’t happen until 539 B.C. That’s 47 years later!

When we thank God in advance, we must also be willing to wait patiently (and expectantly) for Him to bring it to pass in His way and in His time.

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14)

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Central Christian Church | Mount Vernon, Illinois