More than simple manners, to say “please” is to ask without demanding, to recognize that a positive response relies on the good graces of the one who is addressed. And to say “thank you” is to formally acknowledge that someone has given you something beyond what you deserved (unless you are just being polite).
For most of us, these are among the first words we learn when we are toddlers. It is especially important for children to know these words because they live in a state of continually dependency. They are completely reliant on their parents and caregivers for all they receive, and so "please" and "thank you" must be an early and regular part of their vocabulary.
But as children grow into adults, they naturally find fewer occasions to use these words (though hopefully they don’t forget them altogether!). Healthy people learn to rely on themselves and become more independent. Maturity is becoming less and less dependent on parents and other authority figures, and learning self-reliance and establishing give and take relationships with equals.
However, the opposite is true in our relationship with God. To grow in our relationship with God, we must learn to rely more and more on his grace and love. We begin to understand that there is nothing we can offer him that he truly needs, and so everything is to be received as an undeserved gift from his hand. We move away from independence, and toward greater dependence.
This is why saying please and thank you are so essential to a healthy prayer life (the technical terms are supplication and thanksgiving). And they’re not reserved for desperate situations and holidays. The Scriptures make it clear we’re to present our requests to God “in every situation,” (Phil 4:6) and that we’re to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:18).
That sounds like a day shouldn’t go by where we don’t ask God for something and thank him for something. Probably not even an hour.
Jesus said that this lifestyle of asking and receiving would lead to full joy (John 16:24). The apostle Paul said it would lead to a peace beyond understanding (Phil 4:7). But the essence of a daily pattern of saying please and thank you is that it develops our sense of dependence on God, and moves us away from the independence that we naturally gravitate to.
Try it. Ask and receive.
Say please and thank you every every day, and see how your relationship with God grows.
For more, listen to last Sunday’s sermon.