Feed-back from some of our young adults thrilled me. “What about praise? Where does thanksgiving fit in to “Listening Prayer?”
Great question. And I know they know the answer. And they know I know the answer. And we all want you to know, even though you may already know the answer. (Huh?) Here’s the chapter and verse on it:
Philippians 4:4-7. 4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5. Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6. Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Everything by prayer . . . with thanksgiving.”
Let’s try some different language to focus on the primacy of thankfulness in our prayers:
>Thanksgiving is worship and is the right companion of any, every, and all kinds of prayer.
>Thanksgiving offers praise as the “faith context” of every prayer we lift up to our Lord.
>Thanksgiving is a worthy activity in and of itself, the aroma of our constant communion.
>Thanksgiving is the crock pot in which all other elements of prayer simmer to perfection.
>Thanksgiving, Pastor Randy just told me, turns on his spiritual Wi-Fi to hear God’s voice.
The passage above is well worth committing to memory. Some of us have already done so. As the Aussies would say, “Good on ya!”
There is a little sentence in the middle of this text on which I would direct our attention. It is the context in which we apply this wonderful, encouraging directive from Paul. Do you see it?
“The Lord is near.”
>The reason we can rejoice always at all times is because, “The Lord is near.
>The reason we can walk in confident, evident humility before others is, “The Lord is near.”
>The reason we need not suffer anxiety in this broken world is because, “The Lord is near.”
>The reason we can cast all our cares on God is because, “The Lord is near.”
>The reason we can have peace guarding our hearts and minds is because, “The Lord is near.”
A little Greek study will expand our understanding here. The term “near” is translated in other versions by the words “at hand,” “about to arrive,” and “is coming soon.” It comes fromeggus, which can have two meanings as determined by the context in which it is used. It can mean “near” in the sense of time or of place. More clearly, we can ask, “Does this mean the Lord in “near” in the sense of He soon return?” (Time) Or “Does this mean the Lord in “near” in the sense of personal closeness right here, right now?” (Place)
Answer: Both are true in the context. He will soon return. But more directly, He is already standing right in front of you, participating in the unfolding of your life, step by step.
So be encouraged by His nearness to rejoice always, live vitally, stop worrying, and pray boldly.