“…Let us take notice of a great and substantial aid to prayer, namely, thanksgiving:
“In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6).
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2).
Probably the advantage of thanksgiving as an aid to the soul is not fully seen. How often when the well of prayer seems dried, thanksgiving will cause the stream to flow! The recollection of mercies received, and blessings in possession, refreshes the soul; begets the sense that we are in communion with a giving God; and imparts new courage to approach Him with our requests. How many answers are received to prayers gone by, which are not recognized as answers, because in the interval the very prayers that were made are forgotten! Thus is lost to the soul opportunity for praise and thanksgiving; a loss of happy and profitable exercise.
But besides that, [a lack of giving thanks] is a failure in what is becoming towards God. Is it a fit thing to receive a gift and not return thanks? Between man and man it is a breach of manners; and that God takes notice of such failure towards Him is certain from the case of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). Only one of the ten who had been cleansed returned to give thanks, and how touching is the comment of the Lord! “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God save this stranger!”
God looks for our gratitude, and that not only in the heart, but the positive expression of it; expression too, not merely in a general way, but definitely as to definite instances. Praise “is pleasant, and it is comely” (Psalm 147:1). A thankful soul is a happy soul. We can never get into circumstances where we have not cause for thanksgiving, and thanksgiving naturally leads to prayer.
Another aid and stimulus to prayer is private reading–reading God’s Word itself, and the valuable written ministry which in the present day He has supplied to His children so abundantly as to be within reach of all. Such reading, in a proper spirit, begets prayer. It awakes the sense of need, encourages confidence towards God, leading to prayer, with blessing as the consequence.
In the Word, God is speaking to us; in prayer we are speaking to Him–in both together, the circle of communion with God is completed. Neither will do without the other. The Christian who prays without the Word tends to become mystic. He who reads much without a corresponding measure of prayer, will get his head stocked with barren knowledge, but his soul will be shriveled.
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us; and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of him” (1 John 5:14, 15).
…”God is not like man, often occupied so that he cannot listen, or careless so that he will not.” It is a precious and wonderful thing for the creature, man, notwithstanding the fall [Genesis ch. 3], to be so restored to moral harmony with God as to be able, under the guidance of the Spirit, to ask according to His omniscient will. We do not read that angels have this privilege. They indeed “do his commandments, harkening unto the voice of his word ” (Psalm 103:20), but the intimacy with God which prayer afford is, apparently, conferred upon man only. Surely this bestowment is a proof of God’s desire that man should enjoy communion with Himself.
Do we prize this privilege as we should?
 J.N. Darby. Synopsis, Vol. V. on 1 John 5)
Practical Remarks on Prayer: 7. Confidence and Prayer
by E. J. Thomas