Joel Osteen - Thanking God Before You See The Promise
I want to talk to you today about Thanking God Before You See The Promise. We all have things we're believing for: to accomplish a dream, to be meet the right person, for our health to turn around. And we prayed, we believed, we stood in faith, but it hasn't happened yet. Sometimes we're so determined, and we want it so badly, we keep asking and asking, "God, you've got to turn this around. God, please heal my child. God, I'm begging you, give me this good break". But here's the key: once you pray, you don't have to ask anymore. From then on, you need to thank God that it's on the way.
Instead of, "God, I'm dealing with this sickness, please heal me", now you've already prayed, now it's, "Lord, I want to thank you that I'm healed". Instead of begging, "God, please get my child back on course. God, please don't let him get in trouble", try a different approach, "Lord, I thank you that my children will fulfill their destiny. Thank you that as for me in my house we will serve the Lord". It's a different mindset. When we keep asking again and again, pleading with God, it's like we're trying to to talk him into it. Maybe he doesn't want to do it, maybe we're not good enough, maybe we don't deserve it. But when you switch over into thanking him, you're saying, "God, I trust you. I know you're faithful to your word. That what you promised and purposed for my life will come to pass".
Jesus said in Mark 11:24, "When you pray, believe that you receive when you pray". Not when it shows up, but when you pray, believe that it happened. Believe that God is so faithful, that he set the miracle into motion, that in the unseen realm angels are dispatched with your healing, your breakthrough, your freedom. Well, if you receive when you believe, if you already have it by faith, then you don't have to keep asking for it. You have to switch over from asking to thanking God.
There was a lady in the scripture that came up to Jesus, and she started begging him to heal her daughter. She said, "Please, Jesus, she's so bad. You have to help me, I'm begging you to come pray for her". But Jesus ignored her, didn't give her the time of day. Normally Jesus was so compassionate. When blind Bartimaeus called out, "Have mercy on me", Jesus went over and healed him. When a government official stopped Jesus, said my "Little girl is so sick, will you come to my house and pray for her?" Jesus spoke the word and his daughter was healed. What was different about this woman? She kept begging, and begging, trying to get Jesus to change his mind. When she realized that wasn't working, the scripture says, "She fell down at Jesus' feet and began worshiping him, thanking him, praising him". That's when Jesus changed his mind and healed her daughter.
What begging couldn't do, thanking God will do. Don't be a beggar, be a believer. When you pray, believe that it's done, and start thanking God that it's on the way. Believe that God heard you. Believe that he's faithful, that he set the miracle into motion, and believe that you deserve it, that you're worthy, that you're a child of the Most High. No more begging God year after year, "God, please help me to make good decisions". No, the right approach is, "Father, thank you that I have the mind of Christ. Thank you that I'm full of wisdom, that I have clear direction for my life". That's praying in faith. The scripture says, "Come boldly to the throne of grace". You won't go boldly if you're always begging, you won't pray with confidence if you're asking again and again for the same thing. You need to switch out of the asking mode into the thanking mode.
Paul said it this way in Philippians 4:6, "Bring your request to God with thanksgiving". It's not enough to just ask, you have to add this second part: thanksgiving. That's your faith being released. Instead of, "God, please help me. I don't see how I'm going to make it financially. God, I'm begging you". That's a sincere prayer, but it's not an effective prayer. A better approach is find what God says about you in the scripture, find some promises and thank God for them. "Father, I thank you that I will lend and not borrow. Lord, thank you that I live under the open windows of heaven, that what I touch prospers and succeeds. That no good thing will you withhold, because I walk uprightly".
I take time every morning to start the day off in faith, pray and read my Bible, but 90% of my prayer time is thanking God for what he's done, and thanking him for what he's promised. I don't get up every morning and say, "God, please bless me, please anoint me. God, please keep my children from harm. God, please help us. God, let me leave my mark, give me your favor". Well, I've already asked God for those things. When I prayed, I received it by faith. I believe that God heard me. I believe that he's trustworthy, that he's working behind the scenes. So, I don't keep asking again and again, week after week, year after year. I switched over into thanking God. "Father, thank you that I'm blessed. Thank you that you've crowned me with favor. Thank you that I'm anointed. Thank you that my children are mighty in the land. Thank you that your angels watch after us. Lord thank you that Lakewood is strong, that from generation to generation we will tell of your goodness".
That kind of praying gets God's attention. Thanking him is your faith at work. When he hears praises coming up, blessings will come down. That's when he'll dispatch angels and set miracles into motion. But begging God won't do this. Pleading again and again for the same thing. No, turn it around. God heard you the first time you ask, don't pray like he didn't. If you keep asking, you're saying, "God, I'm not sure. Maybe nothing happened". The right attitude is, "Lord, I thank you that my healing is on the way. Thank you that the right person is in route. Thank you that it will be a bountiful year". When you're tempted to worry, thoughts come saying, "It's never going to work out", you don't have to go back and pray again, "Oh, God, please let it happen". No, "Father, thank you that it's on the way". That's what keeps you encouraged. When you hear yourself thanking God for what he promised, declaring his goodness, and speaking victory into your future, that's what builds your faith. That's how you're going to stay strong and have the endurance to see the promise come to pass.
God told Abraham and Sarah that they were going to have a baby, but they were both way too old. Sarah had already gone through the change of life, she had been barren, never able to conceive. Now, Abraham was 80 years old, she was 70, seemed impossible. Year after year went by, and they didn't see any sign of a child. Every day that passed, it was less likely that it would happen. You can imagine the thoughts that came to Abraham, "You're not going to have a baby, that defies the laws of nature. God didn't tell you that, you had too much pizza that night". Abraham could have gotten discouraged, "God, I'm asking you again: please give us this child. We want this baby so badly, please do what you said". No, the scripture (Romans 4:20) says, "Abraham grew strong in faith, by giving praise to God".
I can see him at night looking up at the stars, "Lord, I want to thank you for what you promised, that my descendants will be like the number of stars in the night sky. Lord, thank you that our baby is on the way". That's how he stayed strong and kept believing, even when there was no sign of it. He was constantly thanking God for what he promised. You're not going to stay strong by begging, by asking again and again, by worrying, complaining, "God, where are you? God, why isn't this working out"? You're going to grow strong by thanking God that it's on the way.
Like Abraham, you may not see any sign of what God promised you. You could live worried, stressed, doubting... Try a different approach: every time those thoughts tell you that you'll never get well, never break that addiction, never see your family restored, "It's been too long. Come on, it would have happened by now". Turn that worry into worship, "Father, thank you that what you started in my life you will finish. Thank you that your plans for me are for good, that my latter days will be better than my former days. Lord, thank you that you've already taken care of what I'm concerned about. That the moment I prayed, things shifted in my favor. That what you purpose for my life will come to pass".
That's how Abraham stayed strong in faith: he thanked God before the promise, before he ever saw the promise. Then of course, when Sarah was 90 years old, all the odds against her, she gave birth to a son that they named Isaac. I don't believe this would have happened if Abraham would have kept begging, asking, pleading. Not only would he have gotten discouraged and giving up, but God works where there's faith. When he hears you thanking him for something you can't see, and praising him for a promise when you could be complaining, talking like it's on the way when you could be defeated, that gets God's attention, that's when he'll make things happen that you couldn't make happen.
When our son Jonathan was 16 years old, he got his driver's license and we went down to the dealership and bought him a used car. He was so excited, our daughter Alexandra is 3 years younger than him, she was 13. When we got home and she saw that car, she came straight over to me and said, "Dad, when I turn 16, are you going to get me a car"? She wanted to get that on record right away, she didn't waste any time. I said, "Yes, Alexandra, I'm going to get you a car". She said, "You promise?" I said, "I promise". Do you know, for the next 3 years she never asked me for that car again. Once I gave her my word, she was fully convinced. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn't promise her something and then not do it. All she did for those three years was thank me for the car that was on the way, "Daddy, I can't wait. Thank you so much for getting me that car. What kind are we going to get? What color? What model? What size?"
That made me feel good as a father to know that she trusted me, that she believes me so much that she'll thank me even though she doesn't have the car yet. She's thanking me on credit. But how would I have felt as a father if she came up the next morning, "Daddy, will you please get me a car"? "Yes, Alexandra, I told you yesterday. I didn't change my mind". The next day, "Daddy, please get me that car". "Alexandra, what are you talking about"? The next week, "Daddy, I haven't seen that car yet, I'm begging you to get me a car". The next month, "Daddy, I'm pleading with you, please do it". I would say, "Alexandra, I gave you my word. You don't have to beg me, keep asking again and again, I'm going to do what I promised".
Think about how God must feel when we come back day after day, "God, please heal me. God, please bring the right person. God, please turn this problem around". The first time you asked, God went to work. The first time you prayed in faith, according to God's word, he said "Yes". The scripture (2 Corinthians) says, "All of his promises are yes and amen". Now, I'm human, I can break a promise, I can disappoint you, but our Heavenly Father will never let you down. He'll never go back on his word. After you pray, most of the time there's going to be this period of waiting, where you don't see anything happening. There's no sign sign of a baby coming, Sarah is still barren. No sign of the healing, the freedom, the abundance. All you have is a promise from the God who created the universe. All you have is a word from the God who knew you before you were formed in your mother's womb. The God who calls you a masterpiece. The God who planned out your days for good.
Your Heavenly Father gave you his word, now it's up to us, "God, I trust you. I don't have to see it to believe it. Lord, I thank you that what you promised is on the way". When you thank God in advance before you see any sign, that's your faith at work. No more begging him over and over, "God, please give me a good year. Please bless my business. Please show me your favor. God, please bring the right people". You've said that every week for 17 years, why don't you receive it? "Lord, I thank you that it's going to be a bountiful year. Thank you that your blessings are chasing me down. Thank you that I'm surrounded by your favor, that goodness and mercy are following me, that divine connections are headed my way". The scripture (Luke 12:32) says, "It is the father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom". You don't have to beg God, he wants to give it to you.
Those three years that Alexandra was waiting for a car, she would come up to me from time to time, and put her arm around me at long blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes, kind as could be, and she would thank me for that car, and tell me how much she loves me, and how grateful she is to be my daughter, on and on. And I would think to myself, "You want one car or two cars"? When you're always thanking God, and bragging on his goodness, and talking about how great he is, that's when you're going to see his favor in amazing ways. You don't have to keep asking again and again. Make that switch and start thanking him for what he promised.
For instance, if you get a bad medical report, you need to pray at first, "God, I'm asking you to heal my body. Let your power flow into me, and correct anything that's wrong. I know, you're Jehovah Rapha, the Lord my healer. God, I receive my healing right now". From that time forward you don't have to pray for healing anymore. Your report should be, "Lord, I want to thank you that I'm healed. Thank thank you that you restored health unto me. Thank you that I will live and not die". Don't go back every day and ask for the same thing. You've already received it, just keep thanking God that it's on the way.
If you're believing to overcome an addiction, "Lord, I'm asking today that this addiction would be broken off of my life. That you are freeing me from every stronghold, bondage, generational curse. That every force that is hindering my destiny is broken in the name of Jesus". You went to God with your request, now add the thanksgiving, believe that it's already done. From now on, no more begging God for the same thing, "Father, thank you that I am free. Thank you that I'm whole. Thank you that the power you put in me is greater than the power that's trying to stop me".
This is what my mom did when she was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. No treatment available, the doctor sent her home to die. On December 11th, 1981, she and my father laid on the bedroom floor. They prayed the prayer of faith and ask God to heal her. From that day forward I never heard my mother praying for healing again. She was always thanking God for what he promised. All through the house, "Father, thank you that on December 11th I received my healing. I know I am a temple of the Most High God. This sickness cannot stay in my body. So Lord, I thank you that I'm strong, healthy, full of vitality, that with long life you will satisfy me". She didn't see any sign of it, she was still frail, skin yellow, weak, but she didn't go by what she saw. You have to walk by faith and not by sight. She kept thanking God, kept declaring she was well, talking like it had happened. Little by little she got better and better. Today, 42 years later, now 90 years young she's still going strong.
None of this would have happened if she would have begged God, kept asking it again and again. She understood this principle, that once you pray, once you ask in faith, you have to start thanking God in advance for what you're believing for. If you don't understand this principle, prayer can turn into a complaining session. Where we just air out all our worries, and tell God everything that's wrong, and how bad life is, and "God, I can't take this anymore, you got to heal me. And God, I'm begging you to change this child before I send him to heaven. God, this traffic is about to drive me crazy. The dog sick, the goldfish is depressed, the cat's not speaking, God, do something".
And yes, I know God is concerned, but complaining doesn't get its attention. It's a whole different perspective to say, "God, I have all these things coming against me, but I want to thank you that you are fighting my battles. Thank you that you hold victory in store for the upright. Thank you that what's meant for my harm, you're turning to my advantage". That's not only helping you stay stronger, building your faith, keeping you encouraged, that's what allows the Most High God to go to work.
The scripture says in James 1:5-7, "When you pray, ask boldly, without a second thought. For people who worry their prayers are like wind whipped waves. They don't receive anything from God". If you're worrying your prayers, you're not going to receive what you're asking for. If you're praying from a place of defeat, "God, why is this happening? When is it going to work out?", that's going to limit you. Pray from a place of victory, pray what God promised. Get an agreement with what he's spoken over your life. When the obstacle seems too big, you're tempted to doubt, complain, you can thank God for who he is.
When David faced Goliath, in the natural he didn't have a chance, he could have been negative,discouraged, "There's no way". Instead he said, "Goliath, you come against me with a sword and a shield, but I come against you in the name of the Lord God of Israel". He was magnifying his God. When you face a giant, instead of talking about how big it is, how it looks impossible, do like David, "Father, I thank you that you're the great I am, the Creator of the universe. Nothing can stand against you. You're Jehovah Jireh, the Lord my provider. You're El Shaddai, the God of more than enough. You stopped the sun for Joshua, you parted the Red Sea for Moses, you healed my mother of terminal cancer. You gave us the Compaq Center. Lord, I thank you that you're the way maker, the promise keeper, the miracle worker. You're the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. You have the final say. Lord, I thank you: what you have purposed for my life will come to pass". The bigger you make God, the smaller your problems will become, the more faith will rise in your heart. That's what makes you strong. Are you worrying your prayers or are you praying with boldness, with faith, with thanksgiving?
In the scripture, Jonah ran from God. He didn't go to the city of Nineveh, like he was supposed to, instead he got on a boat going the other direction. It was a big storm, the crew found out that he was the one causing the trouble. They didn't think twice, they threw him overboard. He thought he was done, out in the middle of the sea, but this big fish swallowed him. He was sitting in the belly of a whale, seaweed wrapped around him, smelled bad, dark, depressing, lonely and it was his own fault. He begin to pray. For eight verses all he talked about was how bad his life was, how he was in the depths of despair, and how he was surrounded by vast waters, on and on, telling God all of his problems, how discouraged he was.
The fact is it was all true, but complaining doesn't get God's attention. Worrying your prayers doesn't activate God's power. God works where there's faith. When Jonah realized that wasn't doing any good, he made a switch. In verse 9 he said, "In spite of all these difficulties, I will offer up the sacrifice of praise with the voice of thanksgiving". In the midst of all these problems, seemed hopeless, but instead of complaining he switched over into praise, "Lord, I thank you that you're still in control. I thank you that your mercy is bigger than my mistakes, that you're the God of another chance, that your purpose for my life can still come to pass".
I can imagine God saying to the angels, "Do I hear something coming from inside that fish? Is someone praising me from the belly of a whale, thanking me for my promises in that impossible situation? I have to go to work, they must know who I really am". Three days in the belly of that whale there was praise, thanksgiving, "Lord I thank you that you can turn this around". That whale started to get indigestion, didn't feel good. He went over to the shore and spit Jonah out on dry ground. Jonah went on to fulfill his purpose.
You may have a situation where you could be discouraged today, worry your prayers, complain. Or you can do like Jonah: despite what's come against you, "God, I thank you that things are changing in my favor. I'm not moved by what I see, I'm moved by what you promised. You promised beauty for ashes. You promised mercy for mistakes. You promised victory for the upright. You promised my best days are still ahead. So Lord, I thank you that you're making ways where I don't see a way. That your plan for my life will still come to pass".
The whole key is: you can't wait for it to change then you're going to thank him, you have to thank him in advance. That's your faith being released. Jonah would have continued complaining, begging, we wouldn't be talking about it. You could be at a destiny moment. If you keep worrying your prayers, begging God to change things, discouraged over what's not happening, that can keep you from your purpose. Look back over your life, there's not a time that God has failed you. May not have been easy, but he made a way. He sustained you through the loss, he had mercy on your mistakes, he opened doors you couldn't open, he brought awesome people into your life: why are you doubting him now? Why are you worrying your prayer? Start adding thanksgiving to your request!
Be a Jonah: thank God in the midst of the challenge for what he's about to do. Be an Abraham: give God praise when the promise looks impossible, when you see no sign of it. Be like Alexandra: believe what your Heavenly Father promised you. Don't keep asking again and again, take him at his word. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're going to feel supernatural strength, empowering you to stand strong, to receive the promise. Forces that have hindered you are being broken right now. Giants are coming down. New doors are about to open. The right people show up. Healing, favor, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen today?