Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi includes these powerful verses: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) When I read or recite these words, I typically focus on two words: prayer and peace. I often come to these verses when anxious thoughts and worries threaten to destroy my peace of mind. I am reminded that the temptation to worry is actually a call to prayer and that peace is promised when I pray.
But there are two specific kinds of prayer named in verse 6: supplication and thanksgiving. Supplication is a fancy word for asking. I get that. Asking is the easiest prayer to pray. But the instructions also include giving thanks. Thanksgiving transforms both the prayer and the pray-er. When you and I give thanks for the blessings in our lives, we are doing a personal inventory of God’s love and faithfulness at work in our lives. Thanksgiving forces us to see beyond what we lack and to acknowledge what we have. Because no matter what our perceived deficits are, with God (who is for us and not against us) we are always running a surplus! That is why Paul confidently says, “in everything . . . by prayer.” No matter what we face in any given day, you and I can give thanks. And a thankful heart is a peaceful heart.
I am so thankful to be your District Superintendent! I am thankful for the hardworking, Spirit-filled, and loving pastors of the Northwest District. I give thanks for the churches of our district and the committed, Spirit-filled and gifted lay people who lead and serve them. I am thankful for a loving wife and best friend for over 33 years. I am thankful for three children who love the Lord, one another and the people in their lives. I am thankful to live in a great country and for the commitment and sacrifice of the men and women who protect our freedoms. And most of all, I am thankful for our Savior Jesus Christ, who took upon Himself the sins of the whole world (and my sins, too) and defeated death and the grave so that you and I could have hope forever! Make your own list.
Make sure your prayers include thanksgiving. And this year, as you celebrate Thanksgiving Day with those you love, count your many blessings. And receive and share the peace God promises in His word.