1 Thessalonians 1:1-3: “We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Devotion: If prayer is primarily petition (“God, please…”), then worship is primarily praise (“Thank you!”). Christians are accustomed to asking their Heavenly Father to draw near, counteract concerns, provide daily needs, heal others, etc. This is exactly what Jesus Christ taught his followers. Do we also recall that “prayer is quite simply the first act of thanksgiving toward God”? Karl Barth wrote, “Every one of us who knows God must return thanks to him.” The Lord is the only One who answers, blesses, and grants our petitions. Therefore, the Lord is worthy of our thanks (praise, gratitude, expressions of appreciation, devotion, and love).
The Apostle Paul used two powerful words in his pastoral letter to the Christians in Thessalonica: “thank you.” He repeated these words to God – not to the Christians in the church – constantly remember before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul knew the gifts of faith, love and hope were from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Therefore, Paul expressed his praise to the Lord in written prayer.
Are we in the habit of praising the Triune One like the Apostle Paul? Do we praise God for the work of faith church members perform for God on our behalf (e.g., serving in the nursery, teaching Sunday school, filling our bowls of soup, etc.? Do we worship God for the labor of love fellow believers offer to God while serving us (e.g., gathering the offering, serving as ushers, cleaning the dishes, etc.)? Do we adore the Spirit for the perseverance of the Saints who have shown us the way? In this season of thanksgiving, let us begin our prayers with praise for the things we have already received, before we move on to the next need!
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for all you have given me in Christ Jesus by the work of your Spirit. Give me words and music to express my gratitude! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prayer Exercise: “Adoration Prayer,” page 161, in Patricia D. Brown, “Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God,” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003). ISBN: 0-779-6565-0. Copyright © 2003 by Patricia D. Brown. All rights reserved.