Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 18

Prayers of Thanks continued...

What motivates a prayer of thanks? A prayer of thanks is a natural and moral reaction towards God, who has done you a kindness, has answered a prayer, has intervened on your behalf, has healed your body, or has done a work in you and through you.

If the heart so desires, and the vessel is willing, there is always a reason to thank God, just as there is always a reason to praise Him. By praying prayers of thanks, we acknowledge the presence of God in our lives, we acknowledge His supremacy in our walk, and we acknowledge His ever present hand guiding us, protecting us and keeping us.

For those who have succumbed to the temptations of pride, and glory in the delusion of the greatness of self, hearing that without God we can do nothing, and that in and of ourselves we are nothing, is a bitter pill to swallow, but truth isn’t always genteel, or inoffensive.

The true measure of man’s frailty, weakness, and impotence is well established throughout the scriptures, revealing the paramount need of being dependent on God for all things.

From being compared to clay in the potter’s hands, to sheep among wolves, we come away with the realization that the flesh is a poor defense against the enemy who roars like a lion seeking to devour, but also that if we desire to be transformed into an image pleasing in His sight, we must go through the requisite molding and shaping process.

Give thanks always, for all things. Yes, it is far easier to give thanks for blessings than it is for trials; it is far easier to give thanks for victories than it is for defeats; it is far easier to give thanks in our strength than it is in our weakness, but the word of God commands us to give thanks always, and for all things. In our trials He is molding us, in our defeats He is maturing our character, in our weakness His strength is self-evident, and throughout all the circumstances of our lives, though the world might not see it, we as children of God must see His hand at work, knowing that it is with a purpose and an objective.

God does nothing by accident, nor does He ever do anything just for the sake of doing it. All things in our lives have purpose, all things in our lives have a goal and an objective, and though at times we might not see it, God always does.

Since God is not constrained by time and space, and He sees the end from the beginning, we must trust that where He leads us, whatever trials or adversities He allows in our lives, whatever setbacks we might have to endure, it is all for the ultimate good.

Because I know the goodness and faithfulness of my God, I know that He will not lead me astray or allow me to suffer needlessly. All things will work out for my good, though I might not see it momentarily, and as such I must thank Him for all things.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Clearly there must be some mistake. Perhaps Paul didn’t get the memo in time, but he is telling the church at Thessalonica something contrary to what many a preachers are presenting to the Body of Christ today as gospel truth.

For decades now we have been told that the will of God in Christ Jesus for us is to prosper, have self-esteem, and claim that we are little gods.

Why is Paul trying to upturn the apple cart by insisting that to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in everything is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us?

That doesn’t sound very exciting, it’s almost pedestrian. Could God’s will really be that we rejoice in Him always? Could God’s will really be that we that we pray without ceasing desiring to be in His presence and in fellowship with Him? Could He really expect us to give thanks in everything, even when that which we have received from Him isn’t what the flesh was expecting?

Yes, that is the will of God in Christ for us.

By doing these three things regularly and consistently we establish intimacy with God, and forge a true and lasting relationship with Him. Intimacy is not bombastic. Intimacy is not flashy. Intimacy is well, intimate.

The intimacy that we have with God is not something that men can quantify. Just as someone cannot know the truth concerning your relationship with your spouse seeing you out in public for a few hours, one cannot know the truth of an individual’s relationship with God by seeing them in church once in a while. As such, we cannot judge another’s intimacy, fellowship, and relationship with God, because each of us are individually, and personally accountable for establishing and maintaining dialogue with the heavenly Father.

Appearances are misleading, and often times the persona an individual projects is nothing like the condition of their heart. There are few bigger wastes of time in this life, than trying to judge other men’s spirituality. We were not commanded to make sure that our neighbor, our friend, or the person sitting in the next pew rejoices always, prays without ceasing, and gives thanks to God in everything; we were commanded to do these things ourselves as individuals. When we are constantly looking to the left and the right of us, judging other men’s relationship with God, chances are good we will ourselves stumble, since we’re not paying attention to where we’re stepping.

As the old adage goes, ‘if I’m too busy inspecting my neighbor’s garden, I will fail to notice the weeds growing in my own.’

Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.