Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
1 Chronicles 16:8, 34 8Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; …Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Our current study of Philippians has brought us to the subject of prayer. The Apostle Paul commands us in Philippians 4:6 to pray about everything. Yesterday we discovered that prayers of praise focus on the nature and character of God. The second type of prayer we want to consider is that of thanksgiving. Prayers of thanksgiving focus on the activity of God.
As we make our way through the day our attitudes are influenced by two different types of activities: those that turn out right and those that don’t. We categorize every event of our lives as either a blessing or a bust. And because we tend to respond most easily to the flesh, our attitudes are more easily affected by the activities that don’t work out for our benefit. That’s why we tend to be anxious and worry. But that response is more serious than just a bad attitude: it really reflects a weak understanding of God’s activity in our lives. When we allow worry to be our response to the circumstances of life, we are really denying the activity of God in that circumstance. That’s why Paul states that we are not to be anxious about anything, but in every situation of life we are to pray with thanksgiving that God is at work to bring about His good.
Thanksgiving is vital in all our prayers. There are so many things that God has done, and it encourages our hearts to think on them and thank Him for them. King David reminded us to make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
The first thing I am thankful for is my salvation. What event or circumstance of life can possibly take away the joy of being a child of God? Again, David reminds us that we should give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Can anything in this life separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? Can any trouble you are currently experiencing undo your spiritual birth into the family of God? Of course not! So, in everything you bring to God in prayer, be thankful.
After you have thanked Him for your salvation, the list of things for which to be thankful will be unique to each individual, because God’s activity in your life is unique. But remember this – God is always active and is always working all things out for good.
I was reminded by God one morning to count my blessings rather than focus on the problems. It was rather funny the way God did it. I had been having problems with my laptop computer, and because I had an appointment out of the office, I planned to write a devotional from home. I turned on the laptop and said a quick prayer that it would work. When I clicked on my word processing program to bring up the devotional I had started the night before, my computer did what I asked it to do – and more. It loaded 57 blank documents before I could get it to stop. A button on my keypad had stuck. At that moment God said to me, Are you going to focus on what’s wrong with your computer or are you going to see that when you ask Me for something I will give you more than you thought you needed. It was a simple reminder that even during a problem, God is actively at work to make all things good. We need to notice the blessings He provides even when things are going bad.
Yesterday I talked to a Godly woman who is having some real difficulties that have affected her ability to rejoice and have brought on some anxiety. I recognized that she seemed to be trying to manage tomorrow’s activities along with today’s. It was obvious that her plate was full, but the problem was that she was already working on filling up tomorrow’s plate as well, and trying to carry them both. I reminded her that God promised to provide sufficient grace for today only, and that His activity in her life would handle everything on today’s plate. She needed to let go of all she hoped God would do tomorrow and start being thankful for what God was doing today. It is a reminder we all need.
To use the words of a great old hymn, “count your many blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done.”
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
In everything be thankful. God has not stopped His activity in your life.