12 October 2015

Prayer & Thanksgiving: The Christians Duty - Part 1

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, I wish to share a message I preached a few years back at this time of the year.
Don’t worry about anything. Rather, in every area of life let God know what you want, as you pray and make requests, and give thanks as well. And God’s peace, which is greater than we can even understand, will keep guard over your hearts and minds in King Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7) (KNT)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess 5:16-18 ) (ESV)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people (1 Tim 2:1) (ESV)

Devote yourself to prayer; keep alert in it, with thanksgiving. (Col 4:2) (KNT)
The Christian life should be a life filled with prayer. As Paul stated in Colossians above, we should be devoted to it. It is our lifeline – our direct connect with our Father. We use it always - in all situations – to seek all that we need while here on Earth.
We should engage in it to give thanks and praise to the most-high God – to show our appreciation for all he has done for us – our family – and everything around us. In times of trouble, we pray for strength – in times of suffering we pray for relief – and in all times, we should give thanks.

The American holiday of Thanksgiving is a tradition that started early in American history out of a desire to give thanks to Yahweh, the one true God. Today it has become nothing more than a day off from work where we can meet with family and stuff ourselves with more food than we should eat in a single day, while the widows and orphans around the world have so little.

This is quite a far cry from the purposes that Washington declared in 1789 - when he established Thurs. Nov 26th of that year as a day of thanksgiving. Here are a few segments of what he said:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country…

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Oh, for a politician of that caliber to stand up and make such a proclamation today would truly be a blessing. Instead we have politicians that proclaim and celebrate Thanksgiving without any acknowledgment of who they are thankful to, and definitely never mentioning God.

While our country has left the fine path they started out on, that same notion - that we should be ever thankful to the one supreme Lord and ruler of al things - should forever stay on the lips of God’s people. The giving of thanks to God should be at least a daily event in the lives of His people, and we have such fine examples of it throughout the whole of God’s word - but let us briefly examine some passages from the lips of Jesus himself:

At that time Jesus turned to God with this prayer: “I give you my praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You hid these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to children! (Mt 11:25) (KNT)

So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42) (ESV)

Example after example could be given from Jesus and the Apostles – of a thankful tongue. The giving of thanks is seen to be a common trait of God’s people, and should be still for us in this day.

Unfortunately, it is like pulling teeth to get most people to show thanks to each other, much less to pour out thanks to the Lord on high. Even God’s own people struggle with a prayer life, when at the least they can offer up prayers of thanks multiple times throughout the day.

We have so much to be thankful for, if we would simply slow down from our crazy schedules and look around. From that we should easily be able to stir ourselves up to a few minutes of prayer a day. Unfortunately, for many in these modern times, a steady time of prayer, like Bible reading, can be a struggle to maintain.

Is it the fast paced way of living that hinders us from slowing down for a quiet time with God? Are our minds so filled with distractions that we have a hard time being quiet and concentrating on God?

I wish to explore a little of what might be hindering us, and I'll delve into that in my next post.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5