“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4)
Praise and thanksgiving are vital steps toward entering the presence of God. Thanksgiving gets us through the gates, and praise brings us into the courtroom of the King of Kings. Without taking these steps, we remain outside of the courts of God.
Unfortunately, many Christian pray that way. They stand outside of the gates crying out for God to help them or to heal them. Sometimes they ask others to pray for them, but they never go inside themselves. They don’t enter into His presence, because they fail to apply these two simple principles from the Word of God. They don’t enter into His gates with thanksgiving and enter into His courts with praise.
Ten lepers also stood at a distance, crying out for Jesus to heal them, and He did – but only one returned to give thanks. All ten were healed physically, but only one entered His presence of God and was also healed spiritually. Thanksgiving is an amazing thing; it grants us access into the very presence of God! Praise and thanksgiving take effort, just like returning to thank Jesus…
Praise is vocal; it is uttered. It is the act of proclaiming the greatness of God, extolling Him for who He is. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” We are to continually offer up the sacrifice of praise (whether we feel like it or not), the fruit of our lips. And oh, by the way, you cannot praise God with your mouth shut. You might think you can but you can’t. Praise has to be proclaimed – and when it is, when we praise God with all that is within us – our spirit is elevated into His presence. Praising God is never a waste of time. In fact, it’s one of the most important things we can do.
Thanksgiving is likewise vocal. We praise God for who He is, and we thank Him for what He has done. Thanksgiving is the act of expressing gratitude for all that He has done. When we go to God without a heart of thanksgiving, we treat Him like a vending machine. If you have children, you know the difference between a demanding child and a grateful one.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Paul tells us this, because we can become anxious. Instead, God wants us to bring our concerns to Him in prayer and never be so focused on our needs that we neglect the giving of thanks. Prayer and supplication needs to flow from the lips of a thankful heart. When we come to God with a heart of thanksgiving, the gates of heaven swing wide open.
Recently, I read a story by Derek Prince about a city in Northern Ireland called Bangor. For over a hundred years, a group of monks maintained unceasing praise and thanksgiving – 24/7. According to the report, there have been numerous visitations of God in Bangor over the years. Derek Prince said that if you go to that city, you will immediately sense something different. It’s as though the presence of God permeates the air space.
God’s Word is real; it’s true, and it’s forever settled in the heaven. Praise and thanksgiving usher us into His presence. He is just waiting for us to believe it and actually do it.