The answer might surprise you.
All spiritual battles are not created equal.
Some are simply skirmishes, easily won and quickly left behind. Others are fierce fights against the heavy artillery of an adversary who is hell-bent on our defeat.
When we face those kinds of fights, we must use the most powerful weapons God has given us. We must pull out the big guns.
“Big guns?” you ask. “Aren’t all the weapons of our spiritual warfare mighty through God?”
Yes, they are all mighty and effective. All of them fire the ammunition of faith so they’re all powerful. But they’re not all the same. For instance, if we compared them with natural weapons, we might say that one is like a pistol, another like a rifle and another like a cannon.
If we’re in a spiritual battle and we’ve already used the pistol and the rifle, but the devil just keeps hanging on, only the cannon will do—the cannon of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is the “big gun” in our spiritual arsenal. It keeps us connected to God and receiving from Him even when circumstances are dark. It keeps us in an attitude of faith even when the devil is assaulting our senses and giving us a thousand natural reasons to doubt the Word and the power of God.
When the storms of life are thundering around us, if we’ll just stop right in the middle of it all and give thanks, it will keep us standing strong.
Don’t Wait Until Things Get Better
“But Brother Copeland, I don’t feel like giving thanks at times like that.”
Neither do I. But it doesn’t matter how we feel. The Bible says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). So we don’t have the luxury of waiting until things get better. (If we don’t give thanks, they’ll never get better!) We can’t afford to wait until Sunday. The Bible tells us to give thanks now, right in the midst of whatever we’re facing.
That’s what Jesus did even when His ministry was being rejected by whole cities of people. When He ran up against stiff-necked religious leaders who refused to repent after witnessing the presence and power of Almighty God—even then, Jesus prayed and said: “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Matthew 11:25-26).
Just think how easy it would have been for Jesus to give in to frustration or discouragement in that situation! There He was preaching His heart out, moving in such authority that devils were fleeing, miracles were happening, and people were being healed and set free. Yet people ignored those works, and not only that, they actually accused Jesus Himself of being demon possessed!
If most of us were in that situation, we’d get mad and quit the ministry! We’d throw our hands up in disgust and say, “What’s the matter with this ignorant bunch of people? Don’t they know God is moving in their midst? Can’t they hear a word I’m saying? I give up! I’m not messing with this bunch anymore!”
But Jesus didn’t do that because it would have broken His connection to the Father. And He knew that in the heat of that spiritual battle, He had to keep His connection strong. So He pulled out the big gun and gave thanks!
Silencing a Sinister Enemy
He did the same thing when He went to Lazarus’ tomb. Talk about a major spiritual battle! Lazarus had been mummified by the time Jesus reached him. The embalming chemicals were already working on his body. If that weren’t enough, he’d been dead four days and his body was beginning to decompose.
A major miracle was needed to raise Lazarus from the dead.
We know from reading the scriptures that Jesus had already prayed about the situation. He had received direction from the Father before He ever arrived on the scene. But when the moment of truth came and He stood in front of that tomb surrounded by a crowd of unbelieving people, the first thing He said was, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41).
Why did He say that? Because He knew the Word of God. He knew that Psalm 8:2 says, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength [or praise] because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”
At Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus was facing one of Satan’s most sinister weapons—the enemy of death. That enemy was boasting and bragging of its triumph. It was taunting that grieving crowd, challenging anyone to break its grip.
Jesus accepted that challenge. But before He did, He moved the big gun into position. He used the weapon that Scripture guarantees will silence every enemy of God—the weapon of thanksgiving and praise.
Not Just Gratitude but Faith
You can do the same thing. When you’re praying for someone to be healed, for example, and you’ve loaded your faith pistol and rifle by praying and standing on the Word, just before you walk into the hospital room to lay hands on that person, load your cannon. Start praising God and say, “Father, I thank You that You have already heard me and I go into this room victoriously. I thank You that this work is already complete and this person is healed!”
Don’t wait until you see the person raised up. Fire your thanksgiving gun before you ever go in there. Stop the enemy and the avenger, bring him to a standstill before—not after—the miracle takes place.
Of course, it takes faith to do that. Anybody can give thanks after God moves. No doubt, all the unbelieving folks around Lazarus’ tomb were praising and thanking God after their once-dead friend came walking out in his grave clothes. But Jesus gave thanks beforehand. And if we’re going to see the miraculous power of God in our lives, that’s what we too must do.
We must do more than just give thanks after we receive the answer to our prayers as an act of gratitude. We must give thanks before we receive the answer as an act of faith. That means we must learn to thank God in the midst of what may seem like hopeless, terrible situations. We must thank God when it looks like the devil has just won the fight.
How can we possibly do that? Because we know what the Bible says. We know that no matter how things may appear, the devil hasn’t won the fight. Jesus defeated him once and for all 2,000 years ago. And if we’ll dare to stand on His victory and give thanks, we can win every time.
Don’t Dig Up Your Seed
We can also find ourselves receiving marvelous answers to our prayers. Read the following two verses about prayer and you’ll quickly see why.
“What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).
When you put those two scriptures together, you can see how prayer and thanksgiving work together. When we pray, we believe we receive what we asked for. Then we demonstrate our faith by giving thanks—not after but before we see the answer!
Look at 1 Timothy 2:1-3: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.” Thanksgiving is right in the middle of supplications, prayers and intercessions.
If we fail to follow this prayer concept, the devil will mess us up. The day after we pray—when the pressure gets worse and it looks like all hell is breaking loose in the situation we prayed about—he’ll tempt us to cast aside our confidence. Maybe God didn’t hear me yesterday when I prayed, we’ll think. I’d better pray that prayer over again.
So, we start over. Pray the prayer of faith. Believe we receive. But the next day things look even worse so we end up going back and praying that prayer again…and again…and again.
Do you realize what we’re doing when we do that? We’re digging up our faith seed! Because we think it isn’t working, we’re planting it one day and digging it up the next.
You know as well as I do, if you treated a natural seed that way it would never be able to grow. It would never produce any fruit.
The same is true with spiritual seed. You have to leave it in the ground and give it growing time. You have to protect it, watch over it and water it with the Word until it sprouts.
Once you make your request known to God, believe you receive it and thank Him for it. If you wake up the next morning and the situation hasn’t changed say: “I’m not moved by what I see. I’m not moved by what I hear. I’m moved by what I believe. So I give You thanks, Father, for answering my prayer!”
Load Your Weapons
When you do that you’re obeying the instruction God gives us in Colossians 4:2: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.”
You’re watching over your prayer to make sure the devil doesn’t come in and steal the answer. You’re like a security guard continually stopping the enemy and the avenger with your big gun of thanksgiving and praise.
“But does that really work, Brother Copeland?” you might ask.
Absolutely. I’ve seen it work miraculously in my own life many times. On Aug. 1, 2000, for example, I stood with some other ministers of God who laid hands on me and I believed I received restoration in my back. It had been damaged over the years through things like football injuries, a car accident and being thrown from a horse, and it had deteriorated until it was causing me excruciating pain.
In that area of my body, I needed a fulfillment of Psalm 103:5. I needed my youth renewed like the eagle’s. Since that’s one of the benefits God promises me in His Word, I believed I received it that day.
But the full manifestation of that benefit didn’t come instantly. My complete restoration has been a process.
During the past few years, there have been days when I’d get on the treadmill and within a few minutes, I’d hurt so badly I’d cry out to God! But I’d still say, “Lord, I thank You for a pain-free body. I thank You that on Aug. 1, 2000, at 7:20 p.m., I received restoration in my back. I thank You that the job is done, in Jesus’ Name! I’m a free man! I’m free of back pain!”
It wasn’t easy. I had to watch and be continually alert, guarding against discouragement and staying in an attitude of gratitude. But I’m sure glad I did because today, my back is 98 percent restored (and still improving). In fact, in some areas of my body, I’m stronger than I was 30 years ago. Like I said, I’m a free man!
God desires to do the same kind of thing for you. Healing belongs to you. He longs to deliver you and answer your prayers. He is looking for every work of the devil in your life to be destroyed.
So load your weapons. Bring the cannon of thanksgiving onto the battlefield of faith. Keep your eyes on Jesus and, “By him offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).
He has won the victory—receive it now!
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