Open to me the gates of righteousness that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless You from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and He has made His light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to You; You are my God; I will extol You. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!
This is a psalm of thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for in this extraordinary and difficult year for many of us. As we look back we could ask, “How have we done in taking in the trials and difficulties that the Lord has given us? What have we gained from them? Someone shared with me something on the importance of giving thanks. If there is no object to the thanksgiving than it is not really a rational thanksgiving. Psalm 118 contains how the Lord wants us to talk with Him: pray, give thanks, bring our petitions to Him and give our praises to Him.
In this short section we have all the elements for us to fill our prayers. The focus is on the Lord. The voice changes from first person to third person but throughout the instruction you can see from beginning to end of this section is to acknowledge God for who He is. Give thanks to Him for what He has done and then give petitions to Him; share with Him what our needs are. In verse 25 you can see the petitions: asking for salvation, asking for success, and knowing that that is what we pray, and it is good and right. You can see the balance of thanksgiving much more throughout. Look at verse 19, “give thanks to the Lord; verse 21, “thanks to the Lord,” for what? For answered prayer. We have a lot of reasons as we look back on the year or years past: answered prayer, salvation. We see thanksgiving again in verse 28, “I will give thanks to You, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” My encouragement from this is whatever the elements that we can have in our prayers as we meditate we can say, “I know it is right to pray. When I come to prayer how should I pray? It is not hard for us to come to the Lord with our petitions, those are often in the forefront of our mind. But the other elements that we should seek to include every time we come to the Lord, is those of praises for who He is and what He is and what He has done, then thanksgiving for what He has done for us. I encourage you that in our prayers going forward, that even though we have heavy burdens to share with the Lord, ones that we want to keep bringing back, to include these elements of being thankful and being full of praise.