A Simple Rule | Pray Continually
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 Do not be anx...
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
… then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery… You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’
Deuteronomy 8:14, 17
Joy and gratitude are linked.
Researcher Brené Brown found that every person she interviewed who described living a joyful life practised gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to a habit of thankfulness. It’s not just an attitude of gratitude that brings joy but a practice – be it a gratitude journal, daily prayers of thanks, or regular pauses to articulate gratitude. The practice of gratitude as a discipline protects a person from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness.
It is important to build gratitude into the structure of our daily lives – to make it a part of our ‘rule of life’. Ancient Israel’s calendar included several annual festivals to remind the people of God’s acts of deliverance and provision, so that they would renew their sense of gratitude and reliance upon the Lord. In Deuteronomy, Moses warns the people that they would be tempted to forget the Lord once they began to enjoy the blessings of the promised land. As a result, they would become proud, ‘worshipping’ their own skills and abilities in place of God. Gratitude counters this.
Each day we are utterly dependent on God’s provision. However, our credit cards, insurance policies, fridges, and freezers (helpful though they may be) can numb us to the reality of our daily dependence on God – and so we forget to be thankful for all his gifts. As GK Chesterton noted, ‘When practising gratitude, we recognise that we are not ultimately producers and consumers but, above all, the recipients of blessings’.
One of the greatest obstacles to gratitude is the sheer bounty of God’s generosity – our temptation is to take it for granted. One impact of the pandemic has been, perhaps, to awaken our gratitude for things we may have previously taken for granted: meeting with friends or work colleagues, our health, time spent enjoying God’s creation, and even a simple handshake or hug.
It’s important to recognise that being thankful in all circumstances is not the same as being thankful for every situation in which we find ourselves. Many of us have been impacted by the enemy’s determination to rob, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Thankfulness expresses our trust that, whatever the enemy meant for harm, God can use for good.
Bev Shepherd is the Prayer Journeys Project Leader, an LICC associate speaker, and an executive coach
Making a coffee can be an opportunity for thanksgiving; walking to work, a time of rejoicing; and switching on the computer, a pause to pray. How can you remember God’s presence though common daily practices? Join the conversation in the comments below.