The Prophetic Power of Gratitude

Have you ever felt God’s Spirit move through you while you were thanking God? What about when you were thanking or encouraging someone else about their calling and ministry? God has designed the body of Christ to build itself up in love, and He has made gratitude a channel for His prophetic word and promised to reward it.

We don’t always access the prophetic blessing of gratitude though. We are often forgetful of what others have done for us, even when God was using them. Have you ever been forgotten? Have you ever felt like you were alone and that your ministry went unnoticed? You are in good company.

The Forgotten Dream Interpreter

Joseph’s story was full of disappointment. Though God gave him dreams that he would be lifted up, his brothers betrayed him, he was falsely accused of sexual assault, and he ended up in prison. We know the end of the story, that Joseph eventually became the ruler over all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, and became the source of provision for both his family and his nation. But for a significant amount of that time, Joseph was waiting in slavery and in prison. He showed immense perseverance and patience. Rather than letting circumstances crush his dreams and gifts, he used them faithfully—even in captivity.

One of the ways Joseph used his gifts was interpreting the dreams of other prisoners. In Genesis 40 two of Pharaoh’s former officials in Joseph’s prison had important dreams about their futures. They felt disturbed, and Joseph noticed that they were sad. He was not so overcome with his own troubles that he couldn’t focus on serving others. When he asked why they were troubled, they responded that they were troubled by their dreams but couldn’t interpret them.

The Interpretations

Joseph knew how to interpret dreams: go to God.  “Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.’ (Genesis 40:8b).” First, Pharaoh’s cupbearer revealed his dream. Joseph interpreted the dream to mean that in three days Pharaoh would take the cupbearer out of prison and give him his job back. This was a specific, falsifiable prophetic word, with a timeline. May God give his prophets such accuracy today.

When the Pharaoh’s baker heard a good interpretation for the cupbearer he was eager to share his dream with Joseph too. But his dream did not turn out the same way. Joseph told him honestly that his dream revealed that Pharaoh would have him executed in three days. This was another highly specific prediction. And it was not positive. In fact, it was pretty graphically bad, “Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.” (Genesis 40:19). If Joseph were to prophesy anything remotely like that in our churches we would probably force him to apologize and take back the “curse” or have him kicked out. But Joseph was accurate.

The Interpreter’s Request

Joseph knew his predictions would come to pass, and he had a request for the cupbearer who was going to get his job back:

But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon. —Genesis 40:14-15.

Joseph wanted to be remembered. The accuracy and potency of his dream interpretation certainly should have been memorable. He hoped that not only his gift but his faithful ministry in the midst of injustice would be a part of his deliverance.

Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. —Genesis 40:23.

Sadly, the cupbearer did not remember Joseph or the kindness and wisdom that Joseph had given. It took two years and a disturbing dream to remind the cupbearer of Joseph. He only remembered Joseph when he needed him again.

When They Forgot Jesus

The same thing happened to Jesus. Jesus healed crowds and crowds of people, but only a few chose to follow Him. Even fewer remembered Him at His trial or when He went to the cross. This is exemplified by the story of the ten lepers.

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;  and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” —Luke 17:11-19

Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one remembered to thank Jesus. But that one leper was truly touched. He praised God with a loud voice. He fell on his face and thanked him repeatedly. He was truly grateful.

We are the Lepers

God has touched all of us. He has forgiven us of our sins. He has cleansed us by Christ’s blood. He has given us new life, and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Many of us have been physically healed. Many of us have testimonies of God’s provision. Many of us have been privileged with protection and the many gifts that come with being born in the developed world and in this century.

Yet many of us struggle to have thankful hearts. We forget to give thanks.

Thanking God is not just an overflow of what God has done in our lives. It is obedience to a biblical command. In fact, thankfulness and praise often turns to prophecy in our mouths. Thanking God for His goodness and what He has done in the past often predicts what He will do in the future. For more about the connection between thanksgiving and prophecy check out Chapter 16: Prophetic Gratitude in Prophetic Transformation.

Remembering Others

We not only forget to thank God, but we often forget those who have served us throughout our lives. We forget the servant who prayed for us when we received healing. We forget the servant who prophesied accurately with a life-changing word. We forget the servant who sent us encouragement and told us they were praying during dark times. We forget the servant who loved us and shepherded us when we were young and difficult.

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. —Luke 16:10

Be faithful to say, “Thank you” today.

The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. —Matthew 10:41

Are you pursuing excellence in a gift or ministry? Say, “Thank you” to someone who ministered well to you in that gift. Say, “Thank you” to someone who was a good example for you, or someone you learned from.

What do you get out of it?

  • You will obey the Bible’s commands, and receive the reward of obedience.
  • You will partner with the Holy Spirit in encouraging the body of Christ.
  • You will honor the gifts of the body of Christ and receive a reward.
  • Your thanksgiving may turn to prophecy and reveal future promises and blessings.
  • Your faith will grow.

Most of all, it will be the right thing to do.

Who can you thank?

  • Someone who helped you when you were young.
  • Someone who taught you something important.
  • Someone who prayed for you when you were having a difficult time.
  • Someone who forgave you when you sinned against them.
  • Someone who God used to heal you.
  • Someone who prophesied to you.
  • Someone who led you well.
  • Someone who was there for you.

There are so many more! Ask God to remind you of His servants in your life, and let Him use you to bless Christ and His body.