Thanksgiving and Prayer

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Have you ever noticed how often thanksgiving and prayer are mentioned together in the Bible? In the same breath that Paul encourages us to “pray continually,” and also says we should “give thanks in all circumstances”.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17) Author Paul E. Miller, in his book A Praying Life (pg. 89-90), collected over a dozen verses where the apostle Paul explicitly connects thanksgiving and prayer. Here is a sample:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.”  1 Thessalonians 1:2

I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayer.” 2 Timothy 1:3

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers.”  Philemon 1:4

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

Prayer itself sometimes will be a struggle, as Paul admits when he explains how Epaphras has been struggling in prayer for their friends in Colossi. (Colossians 4:12) However, by always praying with thanksgiving, we can remain encouraged by remembering what God has done and what He promises He will continue to do. By matching prayer of thanksgiving with prayer of intercession, we will not be weighed down by the prayer needs of others (or ourselves) but instead will balance these needs with the assurance of how God has already provided and will continue to provide for us. In this way, we can, as Paul also encourages, “be joyful always.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

Even when we are praying for help in the midst of deep distress and struggle, give thanks to the God who has sustained and will sustain us always!

What are you thankful for today? What would you like to ask God for, in a spirit of thanksgiving?

By Darren Hewer

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