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Connections between the Bible and prayer: Paul’s thankfulness

Friday October 19 2018

Connections between the Bible and prayer: Paul’s thankfulness

For several weeks now, I’ve been writing about the prayers in the New Testament letters attributed to the Apostle Paul. These prayers have shaped my prayers in so many ways over so many years. Today I focus on thankfulness.

Paul recommends thankfulness in many passages. My favorite is Colossians 3:12-17, one of the passages Dave and I chose for our wedding. If you want to click on the link to the passage, notice how many times Paul mentions thankfulness in this description of how to live the Christian life.

In addition to recommending gratitude, Paul also models thankfulness in the letters. I won’t comment on the passages below. I will simply quote from all the places in his letters where he thanks God for the people he is writing to. Notice what he thanks God for, and spend some time pondering if you could thank God for those same characteristics in people in your life.

“I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world.”
          —Romans 1:8

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
         —1 Corinthians 1:4-7

“I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.” 
          —Ephesians 1: 15-16

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.”
          —Philippians 1:3-5

“In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.”
           —Colossians 1:3-5

“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.”
          —1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

“We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.”
          —1 Thessalonians 2:13

“We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.”
           —2 Thessalonians 1:3

“But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”
          —2 Thessalonians 2:13

“I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith.”
          —2 Timothy 1:3-5

“When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith towards the Lord Jesus.”
          —Philemon 1:4

(Next week: prayer in the non-Pauline New Testament letters. Illustration by Dave Baab. If you’d like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up under “subscribe” in the right hand column.)

Some previous posts on prayer:

           The simplest form of prayer: Breath prayer    
           A posture for prayer: Open hands, open heart      
           Two options for how to pray when the news overwhelms you   

Previous posts in this series:

          Connections between the Bible and prayer    
          The character of God and prayer      
          The context of the Lord’s Prayer                
           Instructions from the Apsotle Paul                   
           Paul's prayer in Colossians                        
           Two prayers in Ephesians            
           The prayer in Philippians                  



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