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  • Writer's pictureRev. Izzy Harbin

Thanksgiving In Prayer

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Philippians 4:4-7

NRSVUE

 

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus the Christ.

 

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, written while he was in prison, Paul takes a rather upbeat tone to tell the congregation to rejoice, to not be anxious, but rather spend their time in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. This letter provides an interesting look into Paul’s theology regarding prayer to God and makes a bold claim that if we make our requests known to God, we should do it with thanksgiving in our hearts. The outcome of these requests is not necessarily a resolution to whatever problem or situation we take to God; it is peace that guards our hearts and minds.

 

Once again, we see the idea of thanksgiving or gratitude being used as a way to influence our thinking. The idea that we need to focus on rejoicing and giving thanks is not new, but Paul’s understanding of the product of these actions may be unique. It isn’t just any kind of peace that we receive; it is the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.

As we have reflected in the last two weeks, there is something rather spectacular regarding the use of thanksgiving or gratitude to affect internal change. When we are able to be grateful for what we have, something shifts and changes in us. This would apply to our prayer life as well. Prayer is a way of communicating our intentions to the universe. I have long believed that prayer is one of the best ways to make known what it is we really think, feel, or believe about the world, it gives us a method of speaking about deeply personal things without recrimination. God is always there to listen, and we are always free to speak the truths of our hearts.


What makes this passage remarkable is Paul’s understanding of how thanksgiving increases our internal peace and maybe even moves us to a place of acceptance. When we  pray, we are breathing out all that is getting in the way of us becoming that which God desires us to be, and we are breathing in God’s vision for the whole of creation. It is intangible but real. It holds all the promise of a better tomorrow. Thanksgiving shapes and molds how we see the world. It alters how we talk to God and how we live in the hope of God on a daily basis.

As we inch closer to the holiday of Thanksgiving, it is my hope that we all utilize the tools associated with having a thankful and grateful heart. These will move us a little closer to the peace we long to know.

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