“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
Notice the order: First, give thanks. Second, receive God’s gifts. Paul encourages us to say thanks BEFORE we receive God’s gifts. That’s the complete opposite of what we’re used to! We usually receive a gift and then write our thank you notes. Paul’s suggestion is to live with a thankful heart that looks forward to God’s action. Saying thanks as we pray is another way of showing our faith in God trusting that He will provide.
The whole concept of First Fruits giving as a sign of thanks to God is tied into living with a thankful heart. In an agrarian society one might wait all summer for the first fruit to be ripe on the vines. Taking that fruit and giving it right to God was an act of faith and trust that after this fruit is harvested more will be provided by God’s gracious hand.
Many of us use the annual Thanksgiving holiday to look back on the year and say thanks to God for the blessings of the past. How would our prayer life be different if Thanksgiving looked forward to what God will do for us in Christ Jesus in the coming year?
This different order would be like sitting down to a Thanksgiving dinner and serving the pie first. It’s completely different, but sounds good to me. Please pass the whipped cream!