“Thanks in advance” is a funny phrase.
“Thanks in advance” is what you say when you thank someone for something they haven’t done yet.
You: “Hey, here’s 10 bucks.”
Me: “Thanks; I’ll pay you back.”
You: “Okay, thanks in advance.”
Or, I might say to my spouse, “Honey, I have had A DAY. Thanks in advance for doing the dishes and putting the kids to bed while I watch random YouTube videos.”
Psalm 100:5 says, “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
The Psalmist models a prayer that looks ahead with confidence, knowing that we will see God’s “steadfast love” and “faithfulness to all generations.”
For his love and faithfulness we can give thanks in advance, because their existence in the future is guaranteed.
Mark Twain is supposed to have said: “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” I guess a lot of it was in his head. We worry!
Another writer says that “Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance.”
If we spend time worrying about the future, why can’t we spend time giving God thanks for the future? If we let ourselves experience failure in advance, why not let ourselves experience something much more certain in advance, namely, God’s steadfast love and faithfulness?
Even Job can say with confidence, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:25-26).
Our prayers, then, can include the envisioned experience of God’s future faithfulness. So we can say with confidence, “Lord, thanks in advance!”