Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.Colossians 4:2, HCSB
I know I’ve said it before, but we really are a funny people.
It’s ironic that my country celebrates a national holiday devoted to giving thanks for what we have, then finishes the day off with a commercial holiday in which many retail businesses sell enough merchandise to shift their financial ledgers from red to black (from loss to profit).
“Black Friday” doesn’t even start on Friday anymore, people! Let that one sink in a moment. Evidently, in this nation of wealth and abundance, we can’t even spend nine or ten daylight hours in a state of gratitude and contentment.
I could pick on the fact that, if you were to create a linear graph, you’d probably find the increasing secularization of the good old USA has follows an inverse linear curve to the gradual encroachment of retail sales into Thanksgiving day. I suppose if you’re offering gratitude to an ambiguous nothingness as opposed to acknowledging God as the Provider to Whom we give thanks, there’s really less of a reason to devote an entire day… but I won’t pick on this one.
Instead, I’ll pick on me.
In a recent reading of Colossians in my late Pappaw’s NASB Bible, chapter 4 verse 2 in the NASB grabbed me by the throat. It hasn’t really let go since.
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…Colossians 4:2, NASB
Devote yourselves to prayer… with an attitude of thanksgiving.
As a sinner saved by the unmerited grace of the God I once denounced and by the sacrifice of Yeshua Messiah whom I formerly laughed off as a fable, my whole being really should resonate with thanksgiving. I’ve been forgiven for denying the One who loved me enough to take the death sentence I deserve for my crimes!
For this alone, I ought to have gratitude to God in all circumstances. All of them. Period. After all, no matter what happens to me in the 80-odd years (give or take) I spend on this atmosphere-cushioned ball of rock and water, I’ve been granted an eternal life that I don’t deserve during which I will forever revel in the joy of the King of kings!
But beyond that unimaginable gift, my King has also granted me food, shelter, healthy kids, a loving husband… and the list goes on and on and on. Recently, He has answered a few prayers in overwhelming ways – some of them quickly!!
Yet I’ve realized that when I pray, what I focus on is not the hundreds of granted requests, but the handful I still wait to see. My heart is weighed down by the list of lost people or bleak situations who show no glimmers of interest in the Lord, no hopeful sparks of light.
I focus, not on the abundance God has lavished on me, but on the concerns I’ve yet to see resolved.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of walking with a long-time close friend, and she mentioned how we are both seeing God at work now in both people and situations we fervently prayed together over for years.
During some of the darkest times we shared with each other, lifting up our families in prayer, we never even saw so much as the twitch of God’s finger. His hands remained – almost maddeningly – still.
But now… Yesterday, we both walked and gave thanks together for the many ways we’ve recently seen Him moving in those very same situations.
And so, my friends, not only this week, but from here on out, I am resolved to keep track of the ways I see my God at work, both in the large and the small ways.
I am resolved (Lord help me to keep this commitment!!) to devote myself to prayer with an attitude of thanksgiving, looking forward with gratitude to see how my King is mighty to redeem even the most damaged, hardened, and imprisoned heart.
Will you join me?