I Thessalonians 1:2, We give thanks to God always for you all, ”
Most Christians know they ought to pray more. How many times have you been convicted under preaching from the verse in Luke, “Men ought always to pray.”? Or the verse in Thessalonians, “Pray without ceasing.”? Have you admitted you need to pray more – maybe even walked a church aisle and made a commitment about your prayer life, but then have you failed to keep up these commitments?
Perhaps we should take heed to some of the practical suggestions in the Scriptures regarding what to pray for. There is a myriad of items that should be included in our prayers. But in order to work on our prayer lives practically, let us today focus on one particular thing: thanking the Lord for the good in other people. Do you not just pray for your family but also give thanks to God always for them? What about thanking the Lord for your pastor? What about your Sunday school teacher? When was the last time that you thanked the Lord for governmental leaders? My prayer list has a long list of friends. Today I began going through that list, not trying to think of any requests for them, but instead thanking the Lord for them. This was indeed an encouragement to me.
Paul mentioned this aspect of prayer numerous times.
Romans 1:8, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
Romans 6:16, “But God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart…”
1 Corinthians 1:4, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 1:15-16, “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.”
Similar statements are found in Philippians 1:3-4, Colossians 1:3, and Philemon 4.
What profit is there in being thankful for the good character of others?
- It gives glory to God rather than to each other.
- Thanksgiving for others also gives a person joy and encouragement as we think of what God is doing through others (3 John 4).
- Thanksgiving keeps a prayer from being merely a list of requests for the Almighty.
- Specific thanksgiving for friends helps a person think about specific needs and prayer requests for those friends.
- A habit of continual thanks and praise to the Lord for those around us will certainly squelch any envy, gossip, or friction we might feel towards those individuals. We cannot help but love those we thank God for.
Yes, we know we need to pray more, but let us today apply this more specifically. Let us praise the Lord for the faith, love, patience, diligence, repentance, growth, kindness, humility, generosity, joy, example, and witness of those we know.